An Update From the Indiana Department of Education for October 8, 2021

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A Message from Dr. Katie Jenner

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In continuing to reflect on the trip up north to St. Joseph and Elkhart counties (first part shared last week!), this week's newsletter provides an opportunity to directly hear from our final two stops on what they believe truly sets them apart. So let’s jump right in!

We asked leaders at Elkhart Area Career Center and Elkhart High School, and the Career Academy South Bend to answer the following questions:

  • What are you most proud of about the work you are leading for students?
  • What does this look like today and in the future (if you know)?
  • And lastly, what advice do you have for others looking to implement this type of work in their community?


Elkhart Area Career Center (EACC) and Elkhart High School
The leaders at Elkhart High School are taking a learner-centered, future-focused approach to education for their students. Elkhart High School has developed a “Schools of Study” model, giving students the opportunity to choose from six different areas of study, including: arts and communication, business and international relations, engineering, technology and innovation, health and public safety, human services, and natural resources. Through a partnership between Elkhart High School and the Elkhart Area Career Center, students are encouraged to earn postsecondary credentials, including industry-recognized certifications, while still in high school--giving them a leg up in their futures and in their chosen careers.

Here’s what Dr. Steve Thalheimer, Superintendent at Elkhart Community Schools, Cary Anderson, Executive Principal at Elkhart High School, and Brandon Eakins, Director at EACC, had to say about the successful partnership happening in Elkhart County.

What are you most proud of about the work you are leading for kids

  • Dr. Thalheimer: We are truly able to live up to our Elkhart Promise of "knowing every student by name.” Tailoring their high school pathway to their final 12+ goal ensures students see their learning as relative and meaningful. Teachers can instruct in more focused ways to students sharing the same interests, and students can achieve success as they follow their particular path that is one among many open to them.
  • Mr. Anderson: Elkhart High School's Schools of Study are changing the way our teachers teach and how our students learn through intentional collaboration with our community business partners, postsecondary institutions and expanding on our close educational relationship with our outstanding Elkhart Area Career Center. All teaching and learning is facilitated through the lens of what students are interested in and how our systems support their college and/or career goals after high school. This will allow students to have the opportunity to dig deeper into one program of study based on their interests and will be offered opportunities for job shadowing, apprenticeships, internships, and/or authentic projects with our business and community partners like never before.

What does this look like today and in the future (if you know)?

  • Dr. Thalheimer: We envision education becoming further rooted in student interest with richer project- and problem-based learning. As teachers become more comfortable with this model, they can move more and more to the role of coaches or advisors, helping students pursue learning experiences tied to their specific career and college goals.
  • Mr. Eakins: It means we never quit pushing the boundaries for our students. If there is an interest or a need in the community, it's our responsibility to explore and advocate for the greatest student outcomes that prepare them for postsecondary life. Whether that's further education or placement in the field, they need to have stackable credentials that give the best level of preparation.
  • Mr. Anderson: With Elkhart’s mission of being a global community, the district seeks to help raise the educational attainment of the Elkhart population, create an environment that will appeal to diverse companies, create a strong employee base, drive community prosperity, and prepare graduates for a competitive world.

And lastly, what advice do you have for others looking to implement this type of work in their community?

  • Dr. Thalheimer: The secret to this work is collaboration, flexibility, and a willingness to look at things with new eyes. There is no playbook for this work and the continued cross-pollination of traditional high school learning with the new programs and fields emerging in CTE means that old boundaries have to be crossed with a desire to focus on what is most going to benefit students, and in turn our communities.
  • Mr. Anderson: It is paramount to involve your community partners in the design of what you are wanting to do....Our partners want Elkhart to succeed and in order to do that our students must be college, career and life ready, and that takes all of us to make it happen. 

Career Academy South Bend

To round out our trip up north, we visited the Career Academy South Bend (CASB). CASB stands out for the work their school leaders have led to implement hands-on work-based, project- based, and collaborative learning that prepares students for the ever-changing global marketplace.

Here’s what Jeremy Lugbill, Superintendent at Career and Success Academy South Bend, had to say about the work they are leading...

What are you most proud of about the work you are leading for kids?
At Career Academy South Bend, we are proud of the wide variety of intentional, meaningful pathway programs. Career Academy blends dual credit courses, industry certifications, and work-based learning experiences focused on preparing students for future high-demand, high-wage job opportunities.

What does this look like today and in the future (if you know)?
In the future, we are looking to expand community partnerships. The local community is loaded with employers in need of hiring a skilled workforce. We look to continue to develop and improve these relationships and connections.

And lastly, what advice do you have for others looking to implement this type of work in their community?
The implementation of these programs, remaining laser-focused on what is best for students, is difficult work. Our intention is to grow while increasing our capacity to serve students and the community...we plan to enhance programming that fits the specific needs of our students and community.

I love to see firsthand the innovative work happening in Indiana schools and shine a spotlight on this leadership. I look forward to sharing more highlights in the future about the good work happening in schools across Indiana.

Thank you for all of your hard work to positively impact students!

Office of Student Assessment

NEW:  ILEARN Biology ECA, IREAD-3, and ISTEP+ Retest Resources Now Available

The following resources are now available and may be accessed throughout the assessment windows as needed. Test Administrator’s Manuals (TAMs) provide an overview and must be reviewed prior to practice and operational test windows. Practice tests are also required prior to operational assessments.

Contact the Office of Student Assessment with questions regarding policy and participation and the Indiana Assessment Help Desk for technical assistance.


NEW: Assessment Accommodations Webinar Series Now Available

IDOE’s Office of Student Assessment and Office of Special Education, in partnership with IEP Resource Center, have released a webinar series regarding assessment accommodations for the 2021-2022 school year. The webinar series includes separate webinars for the I AM, ILEARN, ISTEP+ Retest, and IREAD-3 assessments. Each video covers new and notable accommodations available for the assessment, tutorials for how those accommodations appear in Indiana IEP, and frequently asked questions and issues related to assessment accommodations. Please contact the Office of Student Assessment with questions.

Office of Accountability

NEW: Graduation Rate Audit of the 2021 Cohort is Now Open

The 2021 graduation rate audit of the 2021 cohort is now open in the Accountability Portal. The submission window closes Friday, October 29. Schools that are subject to the Mandatory and Excessive Homeschool Exits audits have been notified and are also posted in the School Accountability & Accreditation Moodle Community (Cohorts & Graduation Rate > Audits, enrollment key: AccountabilityCommunity). The Moodle community also contains additional information and helpful tips about the audit process, including a guidance document, common issues from previous audits, a checklist, and a cohort video series (video enrollment key: Cohort). Schools with an error on their 2021 cohort in Learning Connection can submit a Voluntary Graduation Rate audit until Friday, October 29. This graduation rate audit is the final opportunity to request a cohort change for a student in the 2021 cohort. Email with any questions.

Office of Information Technology

NEW: Membership Certification Deadline Extended

The Membership Certification period has been extended to Friday, October 15. IDOE will continue to work with schools experiencing data issues. For assistance, please be sure to submit a support ticket. Use the “Request Data Correction” button on the September Certification tab in Data Exchange to queue a request for a new snapshot of your Membership data after errors have been addressed. Schools may be prompted to provide justification or additional documentation for these data correction requests. Questions about Data Exchange may be directed to


NEW: Cybersecurity Awareness Platform for K-12 Schools

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. With increasing phishing and ransomware attacks on schools across the country, it is critical for our school employees to learn how to detect and defend against such attempts. IDOE has purchased licenses for the KnowBe4 diamond-level platform and is allocating them to schools on a first-come, first-served basis until they are consumed. These licenses may be requested in the School Cybersecurity Moodle Community.  Please contact Brad Hagg with additional questions.


NEW: P-EBT Data Pull for Initial Distribution on Tuesday, October 12

IDOE, in collaboration with the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, will be pulling the initial dataset for the P-EBT distributions, covering the first day of school through the month of September, on Tuesday, October 12. Please review your Data Exchange submissions to the best of your ability to assure accuracy of student rosters/addresses, Free/Reduced Lunch program status, and daily attendance. For P-EBT eligibility, accurate student addresses, Free/Reduced Lunch status, and attendance (virtual/in-person/absent due to COVID) must be present in Data Exchange. October P-EBT data does not need to be reviewed at this time, as the initial distribution will only cover through Thursday, September 30. For those schools not utilizing absent due to COVID reason text, instructions for verifying those dates in the P-EBT Portal will be issued soon. The distribution date of benefits will be communicated to schools upon USDA approval. Questions about Data Exchange may be directed to


REMINDER: Data Exchange - October Data Certification Timelines and Reminders

The October certification period includes the following data: Pupil Enrollment, Curricular Materials Reimbursement, Certified Employee (CE), English Learner, and Non-Certified Employee (NE). IDOE will snapshot this data on Sunday, October 10. The certification window will be open beginning Monday, October 11 and ending Friday, October 15. Schools should verify if their Student Information System (SIS) vendor is equipped to sync staff information, otherwise, schools should plan to utilize the templates for reporting CE and NE. NE guidance is available on the Knowledge Hub and is consistent with guidance provided for the 2020-2021 school year. An announcement will be made when CE information becomes available. Questions about Data Exchange may be directed to


REMINDER: Data Exchange - Membership Milestones 

The following milestones are provided to ensure clarity and consistent expectations about the completion of the Period 1 Membership Count for the 2021-2022 school year.

  • Friday, September 17: This date was established by the Indiana State Board of Education for the fall count, denoted “census date” in Data Exchange. Any student “enrolled and expected to attend” may be submitted for a school’s Membership count. This date acts as the cut-off date for student enrollments that can be included in the fall count (even if they are not all submitted on that date).
  • Saturday, September 18 - Monday, October 4: During this period, all data required for Membership should be submitted through Data Exchange. Schools will only receive funding for valid Membership records. Any errors, conflicts, and exclusions are the responsibility of the school to review and rectify, if appropriate. After 8 p.m. on Monday, October 4, schools will no longer be able to run validation checks, and the Membership data will become final.
  • Tuesday, October 5 - Friday, October 8: Certification of Membership data begins. This short time frame is simply to allow the CFO and the superintendent, head of school, or school leader to review the accuracy of data and sign-off on the valid Membership counts.

Questions about Data Exchange may be directed to


REMINDER: School Office Hours for Data Exchange

IDOE will be hosting weekly office hours on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to noon ET and Thursdays from 3 to 4 p.m. ET. These office hours are intended for school personnel to ask questions and troubleshoot support with Data Exchange implementation. These meetings will be drop-in style and are not recorded. To join the office hours, log in to the Data Exchange Training and Community course in Moodle and select the page for Data Exchange Office Hours. Questions about Data Exchange may be directed to


REMINDER: Data Exchange - Data Reporting Source of Truth

The 2021-2022 school year establishes Data Exchange as the source of truth for all data reporting. Specific instructions for parallel submission with the STN Application Center will be provided as needed. For the current school year, all SPN/STN should continue to be created in the STN Application Center. Details regarding Data Exchange can be found in Moodle. Additional information and training regarding Data Exchange implementation can be found in the Data Exchange Training and Community course in Moodle (no enrollment key required). Questions about Data Exchange may be directed to

Office of Leadership and Innovation

REMINDER: 2022 Indiana Teacher of the Year Top Three Finalists Announced

The Indiana Teacher of the Year Screening Committee is excited to announce the top three finalists for the 2022 Indiana Teacher of the Year. The 2022 Indiana Teacher of the Year will be announced in late October. Details on the top three finalists can be found here. For more information on the Indiana Teacher of the Year program, contact Rebecca Estes.


REMINDER: Innovation Teacher Leaders Cohort Application Period Ends Today

The application period for up to 45 Indiana high school teachers to participate in the inaugural Innovation Teacher Leaders Cohort ends today, Friday, October 8. IDOE's partnership with the StartedUpFoundation (SEUF) aims to build the capacity of innovative high school teacher leaders and enhance opportunities for high school students with the goal of creating an ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship throughout Indiana. For more information and to apply, click here. Questions can be directed to Rebecca Estes.


REMINDER: Attend the Indy Autonomous Challenge at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Students, families, and educators are invited to the Innovation Showcase at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, October 23! This free event, held in conjunction with the Indy Autonomous Challenge, will provide students with the unique opportunity to learn more about STEM and innovations behind autonomous vehicles up close, followed by a unique opportunity to watch these cars zoom around the famous oval track (without drivers) in an all-new challenge. More information is available here, including information regarding how to register for free tickets. Contact Rebecca Estes with any questions.

Office of School and Community Nutrition

REMINDER: Fiscal Action for Meal Pattern Waiver

USDA Food and Nutrition Service is granting a waiver of certain fiscal action requirements in the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and the Seamless Summer Option for meal pattern violations related to COVID-19 supply chain disruptions during the 2021-2022 school year. While Indiana has opted into this waiver, menus must continue to be planned to meet meal pattern requirements. Production records are also required as a part of meal documentation, along with all other recordkeeping requirements. School food authorities (SFAs) should work with their assigned field specialists to apprise them of issues they are experiencing and to find solutions that meet meal pattern requirements.


REMINDER: Additional Flexibilities for School Nutrition Programs During the 2021-2022 School Year 

Labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, and school closures continue to pose challenges for SFAs working to provide Indiana’s students with nourishing school meals. While meeting the USDA Child Nutrition Program requirements is still as important as ever, certain flexibilities are available. Program operators are encouraged to find creative solutions to these challenges. For example, menus may need to change with short notice, and school administrators may find themselves helping during meal service. Having back-up plans and good communication is essential, and the Office of School and Community Nutrition is here to provide additional guidance and support. Local food service teams are encouraged to communicate with their assigned IDOE field specialists regarding any issues they may have in operating the Child Nutrition Programs, as well as creative solutions they have implemented. Sharing this information will better inform USDA in their decisions to implement further flexibilities and will help support fellow Indiana food service operators. Thank you for everything you do to keep Indiana’s students healthy, fed, and ready to learn!

Office of School Finance

REMINDER: Curricular Material Reimbursement Cost Instructions

Please read the following memo regarding the process for submitting the JotForm to request curricular material reimbursement, as this process has changed. The JotForm submission window will be open beginning Friday, October 1 through Sunday, October 31. Please email if you have questions concerning curricular material reimbursement.


REMINDER: Financial Transparency Portal

Please remember to upload your school corporation’s financial transparency data for January to June 2021 into the portal by Sunday, October 31. See the School Finance Moodle Community for a presentation explaining the upload process. Contact with any questions.

Office of Student Supports and Accessibility

NEW: OSE October 2021 Newsletter

The IDOE Office of Special Education has released its October 2021 newsletter with important updates and reminders for the month. Please reach out to Colleen Pawlicki with questions.


NEW: Accommodation Preparation for State Testing

Assessment accommodations are currently in the Test Information Distribution Engine (TIDE). Please review students' accommodations in Indiana IEP (IIEP) and Indiana ILP (IILP) prior to fall, winter, and spring testing windows. Ensure that the correct accommodations appear in IIEP and/or IILP and that the IEP and/or ILP containing the most current accommodations is finalized. Finalized IEPs/ILPs are labeled in IIEP/IILP and appear in a dark green bar. Only accommodations from finalized IEPs and ILPs will be transferred to TIDE and provided on assessments. Please contact Colleen Pawlicki with any questions.


NEW: English Learner Leadership Meeting and Office Hours - Wednesday, October 13

Join the English learner (EL) team for the first EL Leadership meeting of the school year on Wednesday, October 13 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. ET. Topics covered will include using data, Data Exchange reporting, grant updates, and new, upcoming professional development opportunities and resources. Later in the afternoon, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. ET, will be the first EL Office Hours session, focused on strategic use of EL funding. This will be an informal conversation on the optimal use of funds for EL programming. More information and links to access both meetings can be found on the Indiana EL PD Opportunities Calendar. Please contact Adam Pitt with any questions.


NEW: U.S. Department of Education Return to School Roadmap

The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) published a Return to School Roadmap: Development and Implementation of Individualized Education Programs in the Least Restrictive Environment Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act on Thursday, September 30. Topics include meeting timelines, ensuring implementation of evaluation and reevaluation procedures, determining eligibility for special education and related services, and providing special education and related services that children with disabilities need to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Please reach out to the IDOE Office of Special Education with any questions.

Office of Teaching and Learning/Digital Learning

NEW: Fall into Digital Citizenship Week

The INLearning Partnership is bringing educators a full week of events to celebrate Digital Citizenship week beginning Monday, October 18. This flyer shares all of the learning opportunities, including a live summit, a webinar with Common Sense Education, a podcast release, keynote event, and more. Contact Diana Gill with any additional questions.


REMINDER: Tools for Teachers - Available for All Educators  

Tools for Teachers is available for free to all Indiana educators and can be accessed through the Test Information Distribution Engine (TIDE). This website features lessons and activities designed to enhance teaching, learning, and teacher time-saving. It includes accessibility resources, formative assessment strategies, instructional activities aligned to different levels of student need, and other resources aligned to Indiana Academic Standards. Recorded trainings can be accessed for administrators and educators, providing the ins and outs of the platform, including how to find resources. Please reach out to the Office of Student Assessment with any questions.


REMINDER: Early Intervention Grant Update

Guidance for the 2021-2022 Early Intervention Grant is now available. This application will be available to corporations until close of business on Friday, October 22. Corporations must complete applications for each school participating. Contact Mary Williams or Michelle Kemper with questions.


REMINDER: October Professional Development with IDOE

Join us in the Learning Lab every Wednesday from 4 to 4:30 p.m. ET for workshops on focused topics delivered by IDOE team members. View this flyer to learn more about these workshops, and visit the Learning Lab calendar to register. If you have not yet created your free Learning Lab account, you can do so by visiting the LINK portal or the Learning Lab website directly and using your school email address to log in. Contact Diana Gill with any questions.


REMINDER: Networking and Professional Development for Leaders of Virtual and Hybrid Programs

The Digital Learning Team is offering a virtual workshop for leaders of virtual and hybrid programs on Monday, November 1. You can register for our virtual option here. The work of virtual and hybrid program leaders is important, and we hope to connect with you at one of our networking events as well as the virtual workshop. Contact Alisha Foor with questions regarding either opportunity.


REMINDER: U.S. Presidential Scholars Program

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program recognizes and honors outstanding high school seniors, and thereby encourages high attainment among all students. This memo outlines the required qualifications and nomination process. The rubrics for General applications and CTE applications are available now. Nominations are due by Friday, October 29. Please email Emily Black with questions.

News From Our Partners


Hoosier students and families are encouraged to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is now open for the 2022-2023 school year. Filing the FAFSA by April 15, 2022 is imperative for securing money for college and accessing some of the $390 million in state financial aid and billions of dollars in federal aid available for learners. Filing the FAFSA is also required for many of Indiana’s scholarship and grant opportunities, and many colleges require a completed FAFSA to award merit and need-based scholarships. Regardless of the degree being pursued – including short-term certificates, associate and bachelor’s degrees, and higher – students should file the FAFSA to potentially qualify for available financial aid. Click here to learn more about the new form for 2022-2023 as well as an upcoming in-person FAFSA filing opportunity on Saturday, October 23. For questions about state financial aid, students can contact the Indiana Commission for Higher Education by phone at 888-528-4719 or via email at



The Indiana Grown for Schools Network has been compiling and formatting information into farm to school toolkits. The four toolkits are modeled after the four pillars of farm to school programs as recognized by the National Farm to School Network: Farm to Early Care and Education, Ag and Nutrition Education, School Gardens, and Procurement. The goal of these toolkits is to support the implementation and/or expansion of farm to school programs in the learning environment. Highlighting numerous Indiana success stories, the toolkits display how the different pillars of farm to school programs have been implemented around the state and provide inspiration and best practices. Please reach out to Megan Paskey if you have questions or would like additional information.


NEW FROM THE CENTER FOR DEAF AND HARD OF HEARING EDUCATION: Indiana Deaf Education and Assessment of Language 

In 2019, Governor Eric J. Holcomb signed into law HEA 1484, otherwise known as Indiana Deaf Education and Assessments of Language (IDEAL). Linked here is a brief webinar created in partnership with the Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education (CDHHE) that explains the law and the requirements schools have for their deaf and hard of hearing students. Please review the video and feel free to reach out to Patrick Rhodes or Sarah Kiefer if you have any questions or would like additional information.

IDOE Newsletters Centrally Located

All Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) newsletters are located in one convenient location. Please find past issues here.

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