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Editorials

  • A bounty of thanks
     For sewer, bridge and road projects throughout the city.
  • A questionable 'no'
    The legislature is used to paring or turning down requests for more money. But the Indiana Department of Child Services’ decision not to ask for increased staff next year merits further examination.
  • Ethics cloud hangs over new lawmaker
    If legislative leaders are serious about raising the ethical bar in the Indiana General Assembly, they suffered a setback with the election of Jon Ford on Nov. 4. He arrives at the Statehouse with some considerable baggage.
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The week ahead
East Allen County Schools: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, administrative building, 1240 Indiana 930 E., New Haven
Park Commissioners meeting: 4 p.m. Thursday, Parks and Recreation Administrative Offices, 705 E. State Blvd.
ISTEP+ hearing: 1 p.m. Friday, Senate chamber, Indiana Statehouse
Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Buckner Park has been part of the city’s parks system since 2009. Possible additions and improvements to the 200-acre park are on the agenda of Thursday’s Parks and Recreation Board meeting.
Editorial

Righting the ISTEP harm

Haley

A legislative committee will meet Friday to hear testimony on the computer problems that disrupted standardized testing for thousands of Indiana students this spring, compromising the results of test scores used to evaluate teachers, schools and school districts.

Expect to hear lots of outrage expressed by lawmakers, but you’re unlikely to hear any admission of their own role in creating an accountability system built on the performance of a for-profit company. About 80,000 students were affected last month when a computer server operated by CTB/McGraw-Hill failed. Some students had trouble logging into the online test and others were kicked off before they had finished.

CTB/McGraw-Hill had a four-year $95 million contract with the state to provide ISTEP+ testing.

Glenda Ritz, superintendent of public instruction, announced last week that the Indiana Department of Education had hired an independent contractor to review the test results.

Its findings, however, won’t be available by Friday. A second committee meeting is planned for later this summer.

Some school administrators have said the results should not be used because testing protocol was disrupted by the computer failure.

CTB President Ellen Haley is scheduled to testify Friday. CTB is the assessment division of McGraw-Hill Education, which last month named former governor and U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., to its board of directors.

Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, and Rep. Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, are co-chairmen of the panel investigating the ISTEP+ problems. Both accepted campaign contributions from the company in 2012, according to Indiana campaign finance reports.

“It’s important we gain a complete understanding of what went wrong with this year’s ISTEP+ testing so we can work to ensure it never happens again,” Kruse said in a news release. “I encourage any superintendent, educator or member of the general public to attend the hearing and give testimony on the specific issues their school had with ISTEP.”

The panel needs to hear not only what went wrong but also why it is wrong to use standardized test scores to measure student achievement, grade schools, reward or punish teachers, distribute vouchers and more.

East Allen vacancy

The East Allen County Schools board, operating the district since February without a superintendent, is expected to fill the post this week. A public hearing on a proposed contract is scheduled for the board meeting Tuesday.

A new Indiana law requires details of a superintendent’s contract to be made public before that contract is finalized.

The district published a legal notice advertising the public hearing and details of the proposed three-year employment contract, which includes a base salary of $140,000 for 2013-14. The total compensation package, including a performance-based bonus, would be $208,308.

Six superintendent vacancies are currently included in the Indiana School Board Association’s list of administrative vacancies, not including the EACS job. Some East Allen board members have been critical of the statewide ISBA and its recommendations for board performance and ethics policies.

Legislation approved in the last session lowers the requirements for an Indiana public school superintendent. Effective July 1, they no longer need to have a superintendent’s license. Proponents argued that candidates from business and other fields should be eligible, just as former Gov. Mitch Daniels was eligible to serve as president of Purdue University.

Indiana law allows a school board to interview candidates in executive session, but a public vote must be taken to hire a superintendent.

Buckner Park

Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation officials are seeking public comments about proposed plans to improve Buckner Park at the Board of Park Commissioners meeting on Thursday.

Buckner Park, one of the city’s newest parks, officially became a Fort Wayne park in 2009 and covers 200 acres. It has a pavilion and splash pad surrounded by a paved trail, but little else.

Parks leaders want to make improvements to the park and are applying for a Land and Water Conservation grant.

The public meeting to gather opinions on the proposed plan is part of that process. More information about the improvement plan is available at www.fortwayneparks.org.

RiverFest

IPFW’s annual party on the river – an event that has quickly become a major community draw for the campus – is this weekend.

The event, sponsored by Steel Dynamics, moves to a new location in the north campus area, where ample parking is available in the newest parking garage and lots adjacent to the Visual and Performing Arts Building.

Another new feature is the Cardboard Regatta, a cardboard boat race on the St. Joseph River.

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