(INDIANAPOLIS) — The Indiana Chamber of Commerce has taken a comprehensive look at academic standards in the state and beyond, producing suggestions to help elevate Indiana’s well-regarded standards to an even higher level.
Early this year, the Indiana Chamber commissioned a detailed comparison of Indiana’s current standards (approved in 2010) and previous standards along with those from Massachusetts – which added state-specific adjustments to the Common Core State Standards base – and from two states (Virginia and Texas) that did not adopt Common Core. The new Indiana Department of Education draft standards, released as this analysis was being completed, did not look at the standards from these three states.
“We felt researching what other states were doing was vital to the standards writing process, and if their standards were of high quality, why not draw from that framework,” begins Derek Redelman, Indiana Chamber vice president of education and workforce development policy.
“We never said the current standards were perfect and couldn’t be made better. Like Gov. Pence, legislators, educators and parents, what we want is for Indiana to have among the highest, if not highest, K-12 academic standards in the country.”
Dr. Schauna Findlay, who led the Indiana Chamber’s comparison, is senior faculty at the Center for College and Career Readiness and president of the Indiana Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
The majority of the Indiana Chamber’s top recommendations would be new additions to the K-12 draft standards.
“The goal of these recommendations is to offer [primarily] alternative content that can be incorporated into the revised draft standards,” Redelman offers. “We hope they will be considered and approved by the State Board of Education before Indiana’s new draft standards are finalized.”
“Some of these recommendations reflect good compromise on the most debated aspects of our current standards – particularly in the math arena,” he continues.
“An example is our suggested return of the standard algorithm at the grade levels in which it appeared in Indiana’s standards prior to 2010 [more details below in list of recommendations]. This is proposed in the IDOE’s draft standards for third grade but not in fourth grade; we believe it should be in both.”
There are also additional math courses proposed that, according to Amy Marsh, a former educator and the Indiana Chamber’s director of college and career readiness initiatives, “will help better prepare students for the increasing demands of college and career.” Marsh emphasizes that these courses would not be required, but “fit in appropriately for the continuum of learning for some students and should be made available.”
All of the top recommendations in English Language Arts & Literacy would be new to the K-12 draft standards.
These include adding anchor standards in literature and writing. An example of an anchor standard is “determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development.”
Marsh notes, “An anchor standard allows for structure and to see progression. What’s demanded of the same anchor standard becomes more complicated and rigorous with each grade level.”
Another key Indiana Chamber suggestion is a recommended reading list, which was removed from the IDOE draft standards.
“We encourage the State Board of Education to consider the inclusion of specific texts that can inform instruction; there needs to be some broad input when creating the list,” Marsh says. “That’s important because the list helps to guide grade-appropriate text complexity, which enables students who transfer schools to properly advance their reading skills.”
An executive summary, a detailed listing of all the recommendations and supporting documents (appendices, glossaries, etc.) are available at www.indianachamber.com/education.
The Indiana Chamber’s top recommendations are:
English Language Arts & Literacy Standards
• Add a Reading Literature Anchor Standard and grade level standards which build students’ knowledge and analysis skills of literature. Indiana’s previous standards had very strong literature standards. Adding this anchor standard and the grade level standards ensure this strength remains in our state standards. Anchor Standard: “IN.8.A. Analyze the meanings of literary texts by drawing on knowledge of literary concepts and genres.” – Source: Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for English Language Arts & Literacy; similar content is included in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (2009)
• Add a Writing Anchor Standard and grade level standards which build students’ knowledge and application of literary concepts and genres. Anchor Standard: “IN.W.3.A. Write fiction, personal reflections, poetry and scripts that demonstrate awareness of literary concepts and genres.”
– Source: Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for English Language Arts & Literacy; similar content is included in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (2009)
• Add a high school writing standard which teaches students how to write the kinds of college and career documents to open the door to their next step into the post-secondary world. “IN.W.11-12.2.A. Read and follow directions to complete an application for college admission, for a scholarship or for employment.” – Source: Virginia Standards of Learning (2010)
• Add an appendix (Appendix B) which utilizes appropriately complex text as called for in the research, but which includes an Indiana Recommended Reading List which should be reviewed and approved by Hoosier educators and community stakeholders. - Source: Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for English Language Arts & Literacy
• Add detailed glossaries for both English Language Arts & Literacy Standards and Mathematics Standards including Tables and Illustrations of Key Mathematical Properties, Rules and Number Sets for Mathematics. – Source: Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for English Language Arts & Literacy and Mathematics
• Add “calendar time” to the Measurement and Data strand for kindergarten where this content has traditionally been taught in Indiana. “IN.K.MD.4. Understand that clocks and calendars are tools that measure time. Use calendar and time language appropriately (e.g., names of the months, days of the week, year, morning, afternoon, evening, today, yesterday, tomorrow, next week, last week); identify specific days and dates on a given calendar.” This new standard combines the best ideas from multiple Virginia and Indiana standards. – Source: Indiana Academic Standards for Mathematics (2000/2008/2009) and Virginia Standards of Learning (2010); included in the IDOE’s draft standards
• The return of the standard algorithm at the grade levels in which it appeared in Indiana’s standards prior to 2010:
Add this third grade standard to Number and Operations in Base Ten strand: “3.IN.NBT.2.A. Understand and use standard algorithms for addition and subtraction”
Add the bold, non-italicized words to: “4.NBT.5 in the fourth grade standards in Number and Operations in Base Ten: “4.NBT.5. Multiply a whole number of up to four digits by a one-digit whole number, and multiply two two-digit numbers, using strategies based on place value, the properties of operations and the standard algorithm. Illustrate and explain the calculation by using equations, rectangular arrays and/or area models.”
While there has been much discussion about the use of the standard algorithm, these two additions keep the introduction and use of the standard algorithm in the grade levels where it has always appeared in Indiana’s standards without weakening students’ development of number sense. – Source: Indiana Academic Standards for Mathematics (2000/2008/2009); included in the IDOE’s draft standards for third grade
• Add a sixth grade math standard to the Number System strand: “6.IN.NS.4.a. Apply number theory concepts, including prime factorization and relatively prime numbers to the solution of problems.” This addition prepares students for graphing of functions in Algebra. – Source: Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for Mathematics
• Add two advanced mathematics courses with comprehensive standards for those courses: Pre-Calculus and Advanced Quantitative Reasoning. These course additions address the concerns that have been raised that the draft standards did not include content beyond what is required in our current Core 40 requirements, which is not sufficient for students majoring in STEM fields. – Source: Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for Mathematics
• Add a high school mathematics course, Mathematical Models and Applications, to give students additional time to master the college and career readiness math standards with the addition of an applications and modeling class using K-8 and Algebra content. This additional course ensures students who have struggled with math content in the past have the necessary content and skills before moving into Geometry and Algebra II while ensuring a strong four-year math pathway for these students. – Source: Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (2012)
The Indiana Chamber partners with 15,000 members and investors – representing 2.6 million Hoosiers – to achieve the mission of “cultivating a world-class environment which provides economic opportunity and prosperity.”