Indiana's No Child Left Behind waiver is at risk, the U.S. Department of Education has said. Indiana must take this warning seriously.
Among the issues cited by the U.S. Department of Education were teacher and principal evaluations, monitoring of college- and career-ready standards and technical assistance for local school districts.
Gov. Mike Pence has directed the State Board of Education, which meets Tuesday, to assist Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz in making the necessary improvements.
If the federal government rescinds the waiver, Indiana would lose control of more than $200 million in federal Title I education funds.
Indiana also would have to use the federal adequate yearly progress standard as well as the A-F accountability standards required by state law.
The federal report comes at a time of great change for education in Indiana. The state just adopted new state education standards after dumping Common Core. The new standards are remarkably similar to Common Core, and will cost Indiana many millions of dollars more than the national standards to implement.
Indiana is also in the relatively early stages of rolling out the career- or college-ready push statewide that is modeled after the READY NWI program for which Northwest Indiana has rightfully earned considerable acclaim.
With the federal monitoring report's pressure, the pace of change must quicken.
Education is a large chunk of Indiana's state budget. It is vital that improvement be achieved.
And when teacher evaluations across Indiana show only 2 percent of teachers "need improvement," those expectations are too low.
Pence sent a letter to State Board of Education members that said, "I am disappointed and concerned by the findings in this report, and the potential consequences that Indiana might lose its waiver effective June 30, 2014, because education is critical to the future success of our children and our state."
That is what this is all about. It's not about the power struggle between the state and the federal government. It's not about which standards should be adopted. This is about putting the policies and procedures in place to focus on helping children learn.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz and the State Board of Education must step up their game and provide more clear direction to local school officials.
Waiver or no waiver, the quality of instruction in Indiana must improve.