Top Indiana Educators Convene on Edge

By Erin Sparks
December 11, 2015
Owner and Senior SEO Specialist Erin Sparks of Site Strategics and Superintendent Jeff Butts of MSD Wayne discuss podcast details

On Sunday December 13th, educators from across the state will gather in downtown Indianapolis to discuss pertinent education issues. December 14 is the kickoff date for the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents (IAPSS) Annual Meeting, and the theme this year is “Every Child, Every Day…The Indiana Way.” This year’s conference will showcase a common thread between all educators – teaching children.

Last week Erin Sparks, owner and Senior SEO Specialist of Site Strategics, and Thomas Brodbeck, SEO Consultant and Manager of Quality Assurance, interviewed three members of IAPSS during our weekly Edge of the Web podcast.

Superintendents Address Common Issues

“Today, we’re talking with the top brass of the conference,” said Sparks of current IAPSS President Scott Hanback, President-Elect Jeff Hendrix, and Vice President Jeff Butts. The audio roundtable touched on everything from the upcoming IAPSS Annual Meeting to ISTEP issues to finally 1-on-1 technology in schools.

“We’ll have 300 superintendents from across the state discussing best practices in key areas,” said Butts, superintendent of Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township (MSD Wayne).

Hanback, who is the Superintendent of Tippecanoe School Corporation, stressed the annual meeting is a time when colleagues can come together and share stories and insights about what’s going on in their districts. “We are always trying to search out better ways to lead our school districts,” he said.

The educators also jokingly described it as a therapy session for some but agreed it was also an opportunity to recognize excellence with the State Superintendent of the Year Award.

The annual meeting is open to all including superintendents, support staff, principals, and past superintendents. “The goal to bring everyone together and create a conversation that focuses around best practices and making our school districts better,” said Hendrix, Superintendent of the School Town of Munster.

Issues with ISTEP

During the podcast, the superintendents discussed a misconception surrounding ISTEP testing. “Our ISTEP scores are dropping, and because of that, our teachers are working double-time trying to catch students up to they should be per their score,” said Butts. “But what most don’t know is that the data that has come to us is eight-months-old – so it’s really not useful data to gauge where a child should or shouldn’t be.” He added a new testing company should help to remedy some of these past issues.

“We’re used to scoring over 90% average on ISTEP, but not this year,” said Hendrix. “We’re still reiterating to our community that our children are performing higher than these scores are giving them credit for.”

The validity of testing was also discussed. Butts quoted another member of IAPSS, Tom Little of Perry Township: “Ask the person who knows your child best when it comes to performance metrics and that’s his or her teacher.”

Balancing Technology and Curriculum

While it’s hard to imagine a time when computers were not at the fingertips of every student, it’s been a very expensive development.  “We’ve been a one-to-one technology district for five years now, but we can’t continue to support this financially for much longer,” said Hendrix.

There’s a movement to get more to a virtual classroom, or have students bring their own devices from home. “As students evolve so must the technology,” said Hanback. “We think this can be done with student learning centers, collaboration, and communication.”

It should always come back around to how the student can learn best – and that has more to do with curriculum than computers.

To hear the podcast in its entirety, please check out: http://edgeofthewebradio.com/seo-podcast/show-157-iapss-discussing-education-with-indiana-superintendents/