An Update From the Indiana Department of Education for March 18, 2022

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A Message from Dr. Katie Jenner

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While our day-to-day lives (not to mention the world around us) are full of “uncontrollables,” you’ve likely heard the saying that, “Life is 10% of what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.”

For me, there are moments when I react well, and moments when I would definitely prefer a “do-over.” And yet, it’s these moments that allow us to grow and get better…both personally and professionally. This was a LONG lead in to say…despite the inevitable “uncontrollables” of life, let’s always make sure to pause to be grateful and celebrate successes!

Through these “uncontrollables,” we must continue doing everything we can to elevate our education profession and take time to celebrate the good work happening in our schools. When we think about how we drive towards excellence (and success!) in our schools, it ALWAYS starts and ends with the people – our teachers, our staff and administration team, our parents, families, community partners and mentors...and our students.

Today, I’d like to recognize two of our very own who have won NATIONAL awards – they represent us, Indiana educators, and do so in a way that is humble, passionate about continuing to learn and grow, and collaborative. These educators are masters at bringing people together around teaching, loving, and supporting our students.

  • First, there’s the Milken Educator Award, which was awarded to Mr. Ryan Towner, the principal of Walt Disney Elementary School in the Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation. The Milken Educator Award is known as the “Oscars of education,” and is a very BIG deal. This week, we joined in celebrating Indiana’s newest Milken award winner (who is the first from Indiana in five years)!
  • Second, there’s the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), which was presented last spring to Mrs. Sara Hoover, the full-time STEM and Project Lead the Way teacher for Beiger Elementary School in the School City of Mishawaka school district. This award celebrates the work that our educators lead in helping students explore future pathways in STEM!

Both of these educators are laser-focused on topics we frequently discuss – literacy and STEM! I won’t repeat all of the data here again (you can review fact sheets on the literacy and STEM data)...but I will take a moment to celebrate these Indiana educators.

Milken Educator Award - Mr. Ryan Towner


Much to his surprise (and it all was completely a surprise, led in part by Penn-Harris-Madison superintendent Dr. Jerry Thacker), it was a big day for Walt Disney Principal Towner. Yes, Walt Disney Elementary School is not in Florida…it’s in St. Joseph County, Indiana. Mr. Ryan Towner has helped lead a focus on early literacy across his building for years. As principal, he implemented a school-wide instructional program focused on small group learning and the core domains of literacy…and the results are evident among his students. Pre-pandemic, the school’s IREAD-3 scores increased by 10 percentage points from 2018 to 2019, the largest jump across the district! When I asked a school-wide assembly at Walt Disney Elementary who loved reading…every student’s hand shot up without any hesitation or delay! 

Because of this incredible work, Mr. Towner was presented with the Milken Educator Award, which comes with a BIG personal check for $25,000 from the Milken Family Foundation! Throughout the event, Mr. Towner’s face went from mild confusion to complete surprise (see the picture–that is not his normal look…and very quickly turned to a smile!). After the event, it was an honor to be right there when he called his father – who retired from a 40-year career in education – and share in a special moment celebrating two generations of impact for our students (watch that moment here). 

PAEMST - Mrs. Sara Hoover


I first met Mrs. Hoover spring of 2021, and it was then when she invited me to see her students in action! Mrs. Hoover’s work is so impressive that she was one of just 117 educators from across the country – and two in Indiana – to be honored with the PAEMST for 2020! 

Across all School City of Mishawaka elementary schools, with the support of Superintendent Wayne Barker, this district is prioritizing STEM for ALL of their students – and Mrs. Hoover is leading the charge on this effort! For example, every student at Beiger Elementary spends time in the Imagination Lab with Mrs. Hoover, exploring and engaging with STEM-related concepts and PLTW lessons. When visiting, I saw the students in-action, just like Mrs. Hoover described – actively engaging with robotics and coding!

Thank you, Mr. Towner and Mrs. Hoover, for representing Indiana educators so well on the national stage! 

On a different note, to wrap things up here – last week, our Indiana General Assembly officially adjourned sine die for the year. As I promised last week, our team is currently conducting a legal review of all new laws, and over the coming weeks we’ll provide you with relevant updates to Indiana code. This includes a new law updating requirements for e-learning days. Our team will be issuing guidance soon on this new law, including options for waivers. More on this below under the "digital learning" header…

As we are in the midst of spring break season, I hope many of you can take a few days to relax and recharge before finishing the school year strong. Thank you for ALL you do for students!

Office of Teaching and Learning/Digital Learning

NEW: Upcoming Virtual Learning Guidance

The Indiana General Assembly enacted House Enrolled Act 1093, limiting school corporations to three virtual learning days per year. The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) will soon implement a Virtual Learning Day Certification that will allow schools to request flexibility beyond the three day limit. More information about this certification process will be shared in this newsletter on Friday, April 8. IDOE will also be hosting two virtual question and answer (Q&A) sessions to outline the specifics of the Virtual Learning Certification process and will provide educators with an opportunity to ask questions on Friday, April 22, at 10:30 a.m. ET and Tuesday, April 26, at 1 p.m. ET. Contact the Office of Digital Learning with questions.


NEW: Science and Computer Science Standards Revisions Available for Public Comment

IDOE welcomes public feedback on the proposed revisions to the Indiana Academic Standards for science and computer science standards through Friday, April 8. Please see the proposed updates and public comment forms here. The final proposed revisions will be presented to the State Board of Education for adoption this summer with phased implementation beginning in the 2022-2023 school year. Contact the Office of Teaching and Learning with any questions.


NEW: Learning Lab Presentation – Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices

Join Dr. Mike Steele, Math Education Consultant and past president of the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators, for an overview of the Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 23, in the Indiana Learning Lab. Educators can sign up for the free professional development presentation here. This recorded presentation, accompanying slides, and resources will be available for anyone who is unable to attend in the Learning Lab. Contact the Office of Teaching and Learning with any questions.


NEW: 2021-2022 Reading Plan Submissions Due Tuesday, May 31

The Office of Teaching and Learning released the new Reading Plan Guidance. The Reading Plan submission form asks for information regarding curriculum, interventions, retention, and dyslexia data. The submission window for the 2021-2022 school year is open through Tuesday, May 31. Contact the Office of Teaching and Learning with any questions.


REMINDER: Indiana’s Early Literacy and STEM Initiatives – Opt-In Window Open Through Tuesday, April 8

Indiana schools may apply to opt in to the voluntary coalition with IDOE to implement evidence-based early literacy practices in alignment with the Science of Reading or integrate high-quality STEM instruction. Implementation of both programs will involve the use of a locally-managed coaching model. IDOE will provide collaboration and training opportunities at no cost for participating schools. Review more opt-in implementation details related to Indiana’s Priorities for Early Literacy and Indiana’s Priorities for STEM Education, and formally indicate your school’s interest via the appropriate form (LiteracySTEM) by 5 p.m. ET on Friday, April 8. Contact the Office of Teaching and Learning with any questions.


REMINDER: March Professional Development (PD) Playbook – Social Presence in the Virtual Classroom

IDOE’s Office of Digital Learning’s third installment of the PD Playbook is now available in the Indiana Learning Lab. March’s PD Playbook: Social Presence in the Virtual Classroom focuses on the importance of social presence and the different ways teachers can build it into their virtual practice. These resources can be used in staff sessions or as a resource to teachers interested in the topic. Contact the Office of Digital Learning with any questions. 


REMINDER: Virtual Voyagers March and April Dates

The Office of Digital Learning is continuing the Virtual Voyagers series with new topics throughout the months of March and April. Join us for the second March session at 1 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 24, with Universal Design for Learning and Blended Learning. More information on this session and links to register for additional sessions can be found on this flyer. Contact the Office of Digital Learning with any questions. 


REMINDER: Training Camp with Alfreeda Goff Live in the Learning Lab

A new session for the Extra Yard for Teachers Training Camp series in the Indiana Learning Lab will be held at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 24. Join Alfreeda Goff, senior leader of the Horizon League and member of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, for her session titled Women in Leadership. Register for the session here. Contact the Office of Digital Learning with any questions. 


REMINDER: March Professional Development (PD) with IDOE

IDOE has a new series of Wednesday PD opportunities in the Indiana Learning Lab beginning at 4 p.m. ET each Wednesday in March. More information on these PD live sessions can be found in this March flyer. To register for workshops, create a free Learning Lab account by visiting the LINK Portal or use your school credentials to log into the Indiana Learning Lab website directly. Contact the Office of Digital Learning with any questions.

Office of Student Assessment

NEW: Student Access to SAT Scores Opens Thursday, March 24 

Students may begin accessing their SAT test scores on Thursday, March 24. Some scores may be released later due to participation in the accommodated testing window or investigations of reported testing irregularities. Educators will not yet have access to scores. Students will need a College Board account to view their scores and can register for a free account on the College Board website if they do not have one. Additional guidance for students to access their scores will be distributed by College Board and IDOE's Office of Student Assessment. Students who cannot view their scores should contact the College Board’s Student SAT Helpline at 866-756-7346. Contact College Board with any additional questions. 


NEW: SAT Fee Waivers Available

Corporation Test Coordinators (CTCs) and School Testing Coordinators (STCs) for high schools received an email from College Board regarding fee waivers for the SAT that can be used for eligible students to receive free unlimited score sends, waived registration fees for weekend administrations of the SAT, and waived college application fees. Educators may access a list of SAT electronic fee waiver codes and distribute them to eligible students through the ‘Custom Reports from College Board’ option in the downloads section of the K–12 Score Reporting Portal. Contact College Board with any additional questions.


NEW: Preliminary Spring 2022 IREAD-3 Student Results Available in the Online Reporting System (ORS) Beginning Monday, March 21

Preliminary Spring 2022 IREAD-3 results will be available in ORS for all students who tested online beginning Monday, March 21. Results for students testing paper-and-pencil will populate in ORS on a rolling basis as paper materials are received by the scoring vendor. Please download Individual Student Reports and a copy of the 2021-2022 Indiana Interpretive Guide for Statewide Assessments and share with parents/guardians in a timely manner. Schools should consult this guidance when determining next steps for students who did not pass IREAD-3 this spring. Please contact the Office of Student Assessment with policy questions, and the Indiana Assessment Help Desk with issues accessing student results.

Office of Educator Talent

NEW: Nominate an Educator for Teacher of the Year

The Indiana Teacher of the Year Program works to inspire, rejuvenate, and celebrate the teaching profession by recognizing outstanding teachers from across the state. Local schools are encouraged to participate in an annual selection process and local Teacher(s) of the Year are encouraged to complete the state application process by Friday, July 1. More Information on the 2023 Indiana Teacher of the Year selection process can be found here. Contact Rebecca Estes with any questions.

Office of Information Technology

REMINDER: Data Exchange Additional Data Sets Now Available

In preparation for the upcoming certifications of data sets in July 2022, IDOE has released updates to Data Exchange. Additional Student (AD) and Certified Position (CP) validations are now available in the Data Exchange Validation Portal. Additional data sets will continue to be released on a weekly basis over the next month. Schools are encouraged to begin syncing, validating, and reviewing this data in Data Exchange. Questions about Data Exchange may be submitted here.

Office of School Finance

REMINDER: Common School Advancements

The Office of School Finance is now accepting applications for construction and technology loans from school corporations and school corporation career and technical education schools through Wednesday, April 13. Petitions must be received by 4:30 p.m. on this date in order to be considered. Applications can be found in the Public School Finance Community in Moodle under Common School Funds > Spring. Please read this memo for additional information. Questions can be directed here.


REMINDER: Fall 2022 Membership Estimates

IDOE will be collecting a fall 2022 average daily membership (ADM) estimate from school corporations and charter school officials through Wednesday, March 23. Please read this memo for additional information. Contact with any questions. 


REMINDER: Summer School Estimates

The window to submit the Estimated Cost Report for Summer School 2022 is open through Friday, April 1. Please read this memo and FAQ for information regarding eligible courses, important dates, and financial provisions. Detailed information about the summer school program and how to report is included in the presentation Summer School 101. Contact Teresa Hemmerle or Joe Engelstad with any questions.  

Office of School Support and Transformation

UPDATE: Application Deadline Extension - Next Generation School Improvement Grant (SIG) Program

The deadline to submit a Next Generation School Improvement Grant (SIG) program grant application has been extended to Friday, April 15, from the previous application deadline of Friday, March 25. The Next Generation SIG Program grants will be provided on a competitive basis to support planning and implementation of transformational plans in one or more schools identified for Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) and/or Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI). Contact with any questions. 


REMINDER: Now Accepting Public Comment for Proposed Amendment to State ESSA Plan

IDOE is seeking public comment on a proposed amendment to the state ESSA plan. The amendment would expand eligibility for School Improvement Grants (SIG) to schools with Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) plans and/or Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) plans. The plan will also be amended to place an emphasis on SIG applications that prioritize operational flexibility and that aim to redesign the educational experience for their students. Public comment will be available on this form until Monday, April 4. Contact with any questions. 


REMINDER: Annual 1003 Flexibility Waivers

IDOE’s Office of School Support and Transformation is now accepting applications for 1003 flexibility waivers. The following revised guidance was developed to help local school districts promote innovative approaches to transform student learning. Interested officials can read more about the opportunity on the State Board of Education’s website. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through Sunday, June 5. Contact with any questions.

Office of Student, School and Family Engagement

REMINDER: Diploma Seals Order Form Due Today

The online form to order diploma seals for the 2022 Cohort closes today, Friday, March 18. Please see this memo for additional information. Contact Michelle Clarke with any questions.

Office of Student Supports and Accessibility/Special Education

NEW: Requesting Technical Assistance

In an effort to ensure the Office of Student Support and Accessibility is effectively and efficiently responding to the needs of local educational agencies (LEAs), LEAs may now request free technical assistance directly from IDOE. This is an opportunity for LEAs to voluntarily request targeted support with a development need or problem. Please review the new Office of Student Support and Accessibility web page here. More information can be found on this flyer. Contact Alicia Gatewood with any questions.


NEW: Afghan Student Data Collection for Additional Funding

The federal Office of Refugee and Resettlement awarded Indiana additional funding for LEAs who are welcoming students from Afghanistan. Recently evacuated Afghan students are part of Operation Allies Welcome (OAW) and the Afghan Placement and Assistance (APA) programs and may be identified as refugees, Afghan evacuees, or humanitarian parolees. They may have arrived through traditional refugee and resettlement pathways, or have come to Indiana on a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV). 

IDOE is collecting data from LEAs who have enrolled students from Afghanistan in the 2021-2022 academic year to determine funding allocations. Only LEAs who have enrolled Afghan students should complete this JotForm to submit their data. Reporting of refugee student information is due Friday, April 15. Contact Erica Sponberg with any questions.


REMINDER: Topical Tuesdays Office Hours

Join IDOE’s Office of Special Education and the Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center (INSTRC) for Topical Tuesdays, held the second and fourth Tuesday of every month from 2:30 to 4 p.m. ET. March's next Topical Tuesday will be Tuesday, March 21, and will include discussion on the upcoming federal requirements surrounding Indicator 13. Time will be allotted for additional related questions. Registration is not required, and you can join using this link. Contact the Office of Special Education with any questions. 


REMINDER: Transition Portfolio Trainings in April

Join IDOE’s Office of Special Education and the Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center for three, half-hour sessions on Wednesday, April 6, Thursday, April 7, and Friday, April 8. During this three-part series, educators working with students who are earning a Certificate of Completion will learn the components of the transition portfolio, receive tips for creating artifacts, and learn how to create portfolios using Google. Those interested in attending these sessions can register here. Contact the Office of Special Education with any questions.

News From Our Partners

NEW FROM THE NATIONAL YOUTH SCIENCE FOUNDATION: 2022 National Youth Science Camp Application Open for Indiana Seniors

The National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp) is a residential science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program designed to honor and challenge some of the nation’s rising leaders. NYSCamp provides students with opportunities to engage with STEM professionals and participate in exciting outdoor activities. The 2022 NYSCamp will be held Monday, June 27, through Wednesday, July 20, and will be an entirely virtual experience. Two delegates will be selected to represent Indiana during the 2022 NYSCamp. Applications are now open to all Indiana seniors interested in STEM through Thursday, March 31. Delegates will be notified of their selection by Monday, May 2. Contact the Office of Teaching and Learning with any questions.


NEW FROM KEEP INDIANA LEARNING: Professional Learning Needs Assessment Due Today – Win a Gift Card or Conference Registration

Complete the Keep Indiana Learning 2022 Professional Learning Needs Assessment, a survey to provide tailed professional learning feedback for future events, for the chance to win either a $100 Amazon gift card or free registration to the 2022 Keep Indiana Learning #VirtuallyDifferent Summer Conference. Survey responses are due today, Friday, March 18. More information can be found here. Contact Dr. Laurie Ferry-Sales, director of Keep Indiana Learning, with any questions.


NEW FROM THE EARLY CHILDHOOL CENTER AT INDIANA UNIVERSITY: Early Childhood Education Conference Moves Virtual 

The Early Childhood Center at Indiana University recently announced that the upcoming Early Childhood Special Education Conference has shifted to a virtual format. Sessions will be live on Tuesday, April 19, and Wednesday, April 20, and recorded for those unable to participate live. Registration for this this virtual conference is free. To learn more about the conference and to register, click here. Contact the Early Childhood Center with any questions.



The Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) is warning Indiana schools that anti-smoking initiatives through the University of Colorado's Botvin LifeSkills program are funded by Altria, a tobacco company. The CDC has stated that “tobacco industry-sponsored school-based tobacco prevention programs are ineffective and may promote tobacco use among youth.” For other anti-smoking program options, check IDOH’s Vape Free Schools Toolkit.


NEW: Federal Grant Opportunity

The USDOE issued an invitation for fiscal year 2022 applications for the Teacher Quality Partnership Grant (TQP) program. The TQP program supports eligible partnerships that must include a high-need local educational agency (LEA), a high-need school served by the LEA, or a high-need early childhood education (ECE) program; a partner institution; a school, department, or program of education within such partner institution; and a school or department of arts and sciences within such partner institution. The purposes of the TQP program are to improve student achievement; improve the quality of prospective and new teachers by improving the preparation of prospective teachers and enhancing professional development activities for new teachers; hold teacher preparation programs at institutions of higher education accountable for preparing teachers who meet applicable state certification and licensure requirements; and recruit highly qualified individuals, including individuals of color and individuals from other occupations, into the teaching force. The deadline to submit an intent to apply is Monday, March 28. 



The National Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), CSTA Indiana, Nextech, and IDOE are partnering to host Indiana’s first ever CSPDWeek. Indiana K-12 teachers are invited to convene from Monday, June 27, to Friday, July 1, to learn, network, create community, and continue to expand high-quality, rigorous computer science education. The application and workshop catalog are now available, and applications can be completed here. Contact with any questions.

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

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Weekly Updates

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