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IN State Superintendent McCormick visits Michiana schools

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jennifer McCormick spent her Thursday in St. Joseph County visiting some schools and meeting with local leaders to discuss progress being made.

McCormick toured Penn High School and met with the superintendent of South Bend Community Schools, along with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

In between meetings, she sat down with ABC57’s Taylor Popielarz to discuss a wide range of topics.

First up was state testing, and how Indiana’s Department of Education is handling the transition from IStep to ILearn.

“What we’re trying to do is get that focus and that time that’s given on tests, to get that down; make sure we get good feedback and the feedback’s meaningful,” McCormick said. “I would argue for a lot of years the feedback was meaningless. And so we were giving kids a test for what purpose other than school accountability? And what did it really mean?

McCormick said the end of ISTEP has been delayed only for tenth graders because she’s waiting to see if state law will allow for a smooth transition to a nationally-recognized exam.

But third through eighth graders will be introduced to ILEARN next spring. And McCormick said Indiana educators are already working on it.

McCormick was then asked if she supports President Donald Trump’s proposal to arm some teachers in wake of the shooting in Parkland, Florida.

“I think that’s a bad idea,” McCormick said. “I was a teacher. I was a principal. I was a superintendent. Indiana, interestingly, already has a law on the books that allows districts, school districts – if their local school board chooses to do that, they can do that. Today, there have been no districts that have taken advantage of that, and there’s a reason for that. So the risk to that, in my opinion, very much outweighs the reward of arming all the educators.”

McCormick said she supports having school resources officers or retired military and law enforcement inside Indiana schools.

She was also asked about how the state is helping students figure out whether college or trade school is right for them.

“We are modernizing our courses,” McCormick said. “We’re offering more access to courses. We’re trying to better prepare our counselors to have conversations that – their plates are full – but when they can have those conversations with students about opportunities.”

McCormick also met with Indiana State Senator Ryan Mishler on Thursday.

He represents most of Michiana and sits on the school funding subcommittee.

When asked what the toughest challenge facing South Bend Community Schools is – and what the district is doing best – McCormick said the following:

“Their challenge is not different than a lot of other schools; where if you have declining enrollment, the fiscal impact, you have internal issues as far as attention to curriculum instruction and some of that rigor – that becomes very difficult. But some of the good things they have happening are, they are being purposeful in their planning, they’re paying attention to it, they’re being good listeners. They’re showing action.”

McCormick said the toughest challenge her office is facing is a lack of funding for Indiana schools across the board.

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