Tag Archives: indiana

December 28, 2010, 8:57 am

Better testing through "data forensics"?

The re-drawn chart comparing the various gradi...

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With standardized testing occupying a more and more prominent place in American academic life, it’s only natural that cottage industries of all sorts should spring up around it. For example, there’s Caveon Test Security, which is the subject of this NY Times article. Snippets:

As tests are increasingly important in education — used to determine graduation, graduate school admission and, the latest, merit pay and tenure for teachers — business has been good for Caveon, a company that uses “data forensics” to catch cheats, billing itself as the only independent test security outfit in the country.

[...] Caveon says its analysis of answer sheets is the most sophisticated to date. In addition to looking for copying, its computers, which occupy an office in American Fork, Utah, and can crunch…

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March 31, 2010, 8:38 am

Indiana teacher licensing changes now official

The sweeping set of teacher licensing changes for Indiana, which I first blogged about here last July, has officially been signed into law. Frankly, I’m surprised, on two levels.

First, although this proposal flew mainly under the radar in Indiana, it was quite polarizing. The public, especially parents of school-aged kids, seemed mainly to be in favor of the bill; while teachers, teacher unions, and university education professors were quite vocally against it. Usually something this divisive doesn’t make it to being signed into law, or else it gets gutted and compromised first. But I can’t find any changes that were made between the bill and the law. It looks like what we saw is what we will get.

Second, it was pretty clear if you scratched the surface of this bill that one of its reasons for being was to put Indiana in a position to get Race to the Top money from the Federal…

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July 31, 2009, 6:22 am

What are "essential teaching skills"?

In my last post, I expressed incredulity at Pat Rogan’s statement that by limiting education degrees to no more than 30 hours of pedagogy courses, the state of Indiana would be “put[ting] educators without essential teaching skills into classrooms”. I brought up the example of one-room schoolhouse teachers and homeschooling parents as examples of people who teach successfully without anywhere near that amount of coursework. Another example I realized this morning was my own profession of college teaching. Most college professors have never had a pedagogy course in their lives, and yet many of those are among the best classroom educators our society has to offer. They certainly have “essential teaching skills”.

Of course there are also many professors whose teaching is atrocious. But there are also high school teachers with 30+ hours of pedagogy courses whose teaching is equally…

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July 29, 2009, 1:33 pm

Big changes coming for Indiana teacher licensing?

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett is announcing today a plan to overhaul the state’s system for teacher licensure. The announcement is here, and there are three PDF’s linked at the bottom of that page that go into more depth. [Update: There's now a 7-minute video of the press conference at this site as well.] And here’s an Indianapolis Star article (written prior to the announcement, so it’s a bit short on detail) that gives a thumbnail overview and some reactions from local education people. Those reactions seem pretty heated, and when you read the details of the program, you can begin to understand why.

The first point listed in the plan, and the one that seems to have the most impact, is that requirements for content knowledge for pre-service teachers are going to be ratcheted up several notches. Secondary education teachers will now be required to earn a…

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September 23, 2008, 10:53 am

Speaking of grading…

…it’s not really good to farm out your grading tasks to a person who is not an employee of your university, as one faculty member at  IU-South Bend apparently has done:

Professor Otis B. Grant faces sanctions as a result of student complaints that he allowed a nonemployee to grade student work and access student academic records, a potential violation of federal privacy laws.

Students also complained that Grant used foul language in class, improperly canceled classes and dismissed two students from a course without due process.

The investigation did not determine the identity of Riane Hunter, the name used by a woman who identified herself as Grant’s graduate assistant. Students said she graded and signed their academic papers and sent instructions to the class from Grant’s campus e-mail address.

No one named Riane Hunter is employed by IUSB or has ever been enrolled at any IU…

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June 8, 2008, 8:05 am

Not quite washed away

In case you haven’t seen the news, central Indiana — location of the Casting Out Nines global headquarters — has spent the last two days being hit with the worst flooding it’s seen in decades. The photo here is from the downtown area of the town where my college is located. It’s even worse in other areas, where entire towns are underwater and the whole scene looks like something post-Katrina.

We are fortunate enough to live in a subdivision that was built with pretty good drainage and near some significant rolling hills. So there was no “flooding” per se where we were — nothing like in the photo. Still, we woke up Saturday morning to the sound of prolonged, wet splattering in our basement. The drain on one of the windows in our basement had gotten plugged up with mud and grass clippings, and the entire window well was full of water and coming into the basement. I was soon out in the …

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April 18, 2008, 4:12 pm

Stupidest online poll of the week

From the Indianapolis Star online

It’s apropos of this story about how a court ruled that a teacher who allegedly slapped a student while trying to restore order in a gym class was protected from battery charges under the state’s corporal punishment laws. Saying that what the teacher did — and it’s not obvious that anybody got actually slapped in this incident — under duress is protected under law, and saying that teachers “should” slap students — as if it were a first line of defense — are, of course, very different things. But I guess the interns writing the poll don’t really grasp that.  (The headline at the link Sun-Times article is almost as badly off.) 

The scary thing is that the voting is currently 51%/49% in favor of slapping as a classroom management technique.  

April 18, 2008, 10:40 am

What's shakin'?

UPDATE and bumped: 20 minutes ago there was an aftershock from the quake this morning, magnitude 4.2 4.5. Here’s the USGS map from 10 minutes ago:

I didn’t feel the one from this morning, but I was (still am, for 15 minutes more) giving a test in a computer lab on the third floor of our library, when the floor started to undulate and the computer monitors started to sway back and forth. It lasted all of 4-5 seconds, but everybody definitely felt it. A few moments of near-panic as I contemplate what I ought to do when I’m on the third floor of an already-old building and the ground starts swaying under my feet!

I’ll keep updating if anything else happens.


Answer: Apparently most of southern Illinois and a good portion of central Indiana this morning from a 5.2 earthquake centered in Mount Carmel, Illinois. That’s about 100 miles from where I sit, and according to the CNN…

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March 27, 2008, 4:21 pm

On tour and on break

I’ve got a pretty full next week ahead of me. On Friday I’ll be in South Bend at the Indiana MAA section meeting, where I’ll be in charge of administering the Indiana Collegiate Mathematics Competition (read: putting out fires and making copies and grading). On Tuesday and Wednesday, I’ll be in the Chicago area giving a couple of talks on digital signature algorithms and on cryptology in general at Benedictine University. Sunday and Monday I’ll be (somewhat frantically) getting those talks fine-tuned. Next week is also spring break for us, which means it’s spring break for my kids as well, which means I’m a stay-at-home dad for a little while — perhaps the most enjoyable task of all of the above.

So I’ll be blogging only intermittently until next Thursday or so, just so you’ll know. I’ll be more likely to Twitter, so that’s where you can find me online most likely.