After meeting with reporters Friday, Ritz spoke to the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce and later visited programs at Terre Haute South Vigo High School, West Vigo Elementary and West Vigo High School. At the high schools, she toured the Career/Technical Education (CTE) programs.
In introducing her at the Chamber gathering, Vigo County schools superintendent Dan Tanoos said, “She is an advocate for education. She is an advocate for us … She understands what it’s all about.”
One of her goals is to change Indiana’s testing model from a pass/fail remediation approach to a growth model, where questions increase or decrease in difficulty based on a student’s prior answer.
ISTEP-plus only lets educators know whether a student is performing at a specific grade level. A growth model would show where students are performing, with a pre-K bottom “and no ceiling,” she said. It would show educators if students are behind several grade levels or if their skills are several grade levels ahead.
While she believes in accountability, Ritz is opposed to labeling, using the A to F grading system. “When we label schools, we decrease opportunities for students in our schools,” she said. “A 3.7 in an F school is never going to be looked at the same as a 3.7 from an A school.”
Ending the A-F grading system would require a change in law.
Ritz told the gathering of business people and educators how important it is for the Legislature to provide funding to DOE for teacher professional development. Currently, none is provided. “I know of no other business … that does not invest in professional development,” she said. There is much need for teacher training, especially in the area of mathematics, she said.
Ritz also would like to see more flexibility for high school students to pursue “pathways” based on their career interests. Right now, the Core 40 curriculum is “very rigid” in outlining what courses students must take, she said.