News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

July 20, 2013

State delays new school law

Legislation calls for remediation for students who aren’t college ready

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana State Board of Education has voted to delay full implementation of a new law that requires high schools to provide remediation to students to who aren’t college-ready before they graduate.

The law, House Enrolled Act 1005, would have required schools to start identifying 11th graders this coming school year who are at risk of failing their senior-year graduation exams or need remedial classes before beginning college work for credit. The law would have also required high schools to start providing extra help to those students in their senior year.

But the board voted Thursday to narrow the scope of the law to a small group of students this coming school year to give the state Department of Education more time to come up with a plan to implement the law in full.

“I think schools will welcome the extra time,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz.

The law was prompted by research that shows a significant number of Indiana high schools graduates, including those who graduated with academic honors, have to take basic remediation courses in math and English when they go to college.

Every year, more than 10,000 college freshman who’ve graduated from Indiana high schools are required to take remedial classes that give them no college credits but cost the same as a for-credit course, according to the Indiana Commission on Higher Education.

In 2011, the latest year available, the commission found that more 40 percent of Indiana high school students who graduated with a college-preperatory Core 40 degree had to remedial classes in college. For students who graduated with a general degree, it was 83 percent. Seven percent of high school students with an academic honors degree had to take remedial classes in college.

Ritz said she recognized the “disconnect” on college readiness, but said the DOE needed more time to decide what kind of assessment test to put into place and what kind of remedial curriculum would be appropriate.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has been a supporter of the new remediation law and proponent of doing more to boost the college-readiness of Indiana students. His new education policy adviser, Claire Fiddian-Green, was at the board meeting but declined to comment on the board’s decision. She said she wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.

Sixteen Indiana high schools are involved in a pilot project using Accuplacer, the standard assessment test used by the state’s universities to determine if students are ready for college-level math and English. But Ritz said she’s not sure if Accuplacer is the best tool for the state’s high schools to use.

For the coming school year, schools will only need to provide remediation for students who fail twice to pass the end-course assessment test in algebra. Ritz said the DOE will have a plan by next April for how to implement the law for other students.

Ritz also expressed concerns about the lack of funding to implement the new remediation law and said the DOE needed more time to help schools figure out its fiscal impact. In passing the legislation, the General Assembly provided no additional dollars to schools for the testing and remediation of students. Leglistators who supported the law said they expected schools would be able to use their existing resources.  

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers, the Tribune-Star’s parent company. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

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