While thousands packed the Indiana State House protesting how the Governor and Legislature has mistreated and disrespected her and public education, Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz was in the AM 1310 The Light studio talking with the community on Afternoons with Amos in a broad and wide ranging extended interview. Her opponents have tried to characterize Supt. Ritz as a weak, ineffectual, out of touch leader, but in her hour long interview, the former Washington Township educator talked strong, firm, committed and passionate about her job and serving Indiana’s school kids. The interview covered a wide range of topics, but began with Supt. Ritz talking about what parents need to do to get their kids ready for the ISTEP tests that begin next week. Supt. Ritz explained that this year’ ISTEP would be harder and different from years past. “We’re focusing on testing whether our kids are college and career ready”, Ritz told listeners. She patiently explained how the test was different and what types of skills the Indiana’s new standards were teaching. One thing in the Afternoons with Amos interview with Supt Glenda Ritz that came out was her insistence that a lot of the reason for the high stakes standardized testing and the pass/fail nature of those tests aren’t things mandated by state leaders but by the Federal Government. Regarding the controversial length of the ISTEP, Supt. Ritz said she’d talked just before the Afternoons with Amos interview with Gov. Mike Pence and next steps of shortening the test’s length. Ritz said that the Legislature must take action to remove some ISTEP test items mandated by the state. Ritz is confident the Legislature will act quickly. Supt. Ritz also addressed her relationship with Gov. Pence on a personal level and the institutional battles between her office and the Governor’s Office. The former special education teacher, answered some listeners’ questions about special ed students and how they deal with ISTEP. Ritz said schools must following the testing accommodations provided in a child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) without exception. Responding to a Twitter Question:
Supt. Ritz admitted that it would be September before the ISTEP results would be released. The reason: test results must be evaluated; questions that large numbers of students couldn’t answer correctly will be scrapped and that evaluation takes time. Finally, Ritz said, both the Indiana Education Roundtable (of which Amos Brown is a member) and Indiana State Board of Education must approve the “cut” or passing scores for the test before data can released to schools, students and parents. The extensive interview, Supt. Ritz’ longest with an Indianapolis media outlet, covered those and other critical education issues and concerns. Click the Media Player to Hear the Full Afternoons with Amos Interview with Supt. Glenda Ritz. Runs 61 Minutes ©2015 WTLC/Radio One.