Who Is In Charge

Momentum builds for career and technical diploma

A bill to create a new career and technical diploma won unanimous support in the Indiana House today, despite concerns from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce that the state does not need a fifth diploma type.

House Bill 1213, authored by Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Mount Vernon, would direct the Indiana Career Council to name a committee to design the new diploma, including what courses are required. It passed the House 92-0.

McNamara, who is director of Evansville’s Early College High School, argued that the state’s primary diploma, known as the Core 40, has discouraged students from participating in career and technical programs and caused schools to offer fewer of those options.

“We all know that when kids do what they love they are going to shine,” she said. “Having a diploma in classes in which kids can learn English and math skills in the context of doing what they love only means good things for the state of Indiana.”

Indiana has four diploma types — general, Core 40, honors and career and technical honors — and has encouraged students to aim for at least the Core 40. Because that diploma requires more courses, and more challenging courses, some advocates for career and technical education believes students may shy away from career and technical courses to concentrate on meeting their Core 40 requirements.

But Derek Redelman, vice president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, said his organization opposes the bill.

“We strongly support the general goals that have been laid out in this bill,” he said last week when the House Education Committee heard testimony. “But rather than creating another diploma that might confuse the situation, we’d rather figure out a way to address the diplomas we have.”

The state does offer a career and technical honors diploma, but to earn that credential students must first complete the Core 40 diploma and then add extra classes or academic achievements like a high SAT score.

McNamara argues that some of the advanced courses in the Core 40 might not be needed by students who are aiming for good jobs in careers that do not require college degrees. Her hope, she said, was that a separate career technical diploma would still be demanding but that the coursework could be tailored to skills those students need.

The bill drew praise from Democrats, including Rep. Kreg Battles, D-Vincennes. Battles, a teacher, said it was one of the best bills the legislature had seen in years. Battles framed the idea as a step back from a Republican-led push for ever higher standards in recent years, saying the push often fails to consider the needs of all students.

“We get so caught up with rigor,” he said. “That has become a buzzword. We have forgotten about relevance. Rigor is only good if it is relevant.”

Battles said the bill was needed to revive career and technical education.

“Our technical and career programs are being destroyed and it isn’t because we don’t have kids who are interested,” he said. “They don’t have room in their schedules.”

Indiana has moved in recent years to require students to complete the Core 40 diploma. In order to opt for a general diploma, students must demonstrate that they are following an alternative graduation plan that meets all the state’s requirements in basic subjects.

A 2012 study by IUPUI, however found even a Core 40 may not be enough to guarantee a student succeeds in college. Marion County graduates in the study significantly increased their chances of going to, and graduating, from college if they completed the honors diploma. There was little difference in college attainment and completion for students who earned a Core 40 vs. a general diploma.

The bill now moves to the Senate, which will begin considering House bills next week.

General Diploma
English/language arts: 8 credits (Includes literature, composition and speech)
Mathematics: 4 credits (Includes Algebra 1 or integrated mathematics)
Science: 4 credits  (Includes Biology 1 and at least one credit in physical science or earth and space science)
Social studies: 4 credits (Includes U.S. History and U.S. Government)
Physical education: 2 credits
Health and wellness: 1 credit
College and career pathway courses*: 6 credits
Flex credits**: 5 credits
Electives: 6 credits
Total credits: 40*Must select electives with a deliberate purpose to prepare for college or work.
**Courses in college or career readiness, co-op or internships, college dual credits or additional courses in core subjects.

Core 40 Diploma
English/language arts: 8 credits (Includes literature, composition and speech)
Mathematics: 6 credits (Includes Algebra 1, geometry and Algebra 2)
Science: 6 credits (Includes Biology 1 and Chemistry 1, Physics 1 or an integrated chemistry and physics course)
Social studies: 6 credits (Includes U.S. History, U.S. Government, Economics and World History or Geography)
Physical education: 2 credits
Health and wellness: 1 credit
Directed electives: 5 credits (Includes world languages, fine arts and career or technical education)
Electives: 6 credits
Total credits: 40

Technical Honors Diploma

Must complete all the Core 40 requirements plus:
– At least at least 6 additional credits in college or career preparation courses
– A grade of C or better in all courses that count toward the diploma
– A GPA that averages at least a B
– At least two Advanced Placement/dual credit college courses, or a score of 530 on each part of the SAT, or an ACT score of 26 or higher or 4 credits of International Baccalaureate courses.
Total credits: 47

Academic Honors Diploma
Must complete all the Core 40 requirements plus:

– At least 2 additional math credits
– At least 6 to 8 credits in world languages
– At least 2 credits in fine arts
– A grade of C or better in all courses that count toward the diploma
– A GPA that averages at least a B
– At least two Advanced Placement/dual credit college courses, or a score of 530 on each part of the SAT or an ACT score of 26 or higher, or 4 credits of International Baccalaureate courses, or a earn a minimum score on special state math, reading and writing skill tests.
Total Credits: 47

Who Is In Charge

Indianapolis Public Schools board gives superintendent Ferebee raise, bonus

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy
Lewis Ferebee

Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Lewis Ferebee is getting a $4,701 raise and a bonus of $28,000.

The board voted unanimously to approve both. The raise is a 2.24 percent salary increase. It is retroactive to July 1, 2017. Ferebee’s total pay this year, including the bonus, retirement contributions and a stipend for a car, will be $286,769. Even though the bonus was paid this year, it is based on his performance last school year.

The board approved a new contract Tuesday that includes a raise for teachers.

The bonus is 80 percent of the total — $35,000 — he could have received under his contract. It is based on goals agreed to by the superintendent and the board.

These are performance criteria used to determine the superintendent’s bonus are below:

Student recruitment

How common is it for districts to share student contact info with charter schools? Here’s what we know.

PHOTO: Laura Faith Kebede
Staff members of Green Dot Public Schools canvass a neighborhood near Kirby Middle School in the summer of 2016 before reopening the Memphis school as a charter.

As charter schools emerge alongside local school districts across the nation, student addresses have become a key turf war.

Charter schools have succeeded in filling their classes with and without access to student contact information. But their operators frequently argue that they have a right to such information, which they say is vital to their recruitment efforts and gives families equal access to different schools in their area.

Disputes are underway right now in at least two places: In Tennessee, school boards in Nashville and Memphis are defying a new state law that requires districts to hand over such information to charters that request it. A New York City parent recently filed a formal complaint accusing the city of sharing her information improperly with local charter schools.

How do other cities handle the issue? According to officials from a range of school districts, some share student information freely with charters while others guard it fiercely.

Some districts explicitly do not share student information with charter schools. This includes Detroit, where the schools chief is waging an open war with the charter sector for students; Washington, D.C., where the two school sectors coexist more peacefully; and Los Angeles.

Others have clear rules for student information sharing. Denver, for example, set parameters for what information the district will hand over to charter schools in a formal collaboration agreement — one that Memphis officials frequently cite as a model for one they are creating. Baltimore and Boston also share information, although Boston gives out only some of the personal details that district schools can access.

At least one city has carved out a compromise. In New York City, a third-party company provides mass mailings for charter schools, using contact information provided by the school district. Charter schools do not actually see that information and cannot use it for other purposes — although the provision hasn’t eliminated parent concerns about student privacy and fair recruitment practices there.

In Tennessee, the fight by the state’s two largest districts over the issue is nearing a boiling point. The state education department has already asked a judge to intervene in Nashville and is mulling whether to add the Memphis district to the court filing after the school board there voted to defy the state’s order to share information last month. Nashville’s court hearing is Nov. 28.

The conflict feels high-stakes to some. In Memphis, both local and state districts struggle with enrolling enough students. Most schools in the state-run Achievement School District have lost enrollment this year, and the local district, Shelby County Schools, saw a slight increase in enrollment this year after years of freefall.

Still, some charter leaders wonder why schools can’t get along without the information. One Memphis charter operator said his school fills its classes through word of mouth, Facebook ads, and signs in surrounding neighborhoods.

“We’re fully enrolled just through that,” said the leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect his relationship with the state and local districts. “It’s a non-argument for me.”

A spokeswoman for Green Dot Public Schools, the state-managed charter school whose request for student information started the legal fight in Memphis, said schools in the Achievement School District should receive student contact information because they are supposed to serve students within specific neighborhood boundaries.

“At the end of the day, parents should have the information they need to go to their neighborhood school,” said the spokeswoman, Cynara Lilly. “They deserve to know it’s open.”