Indiana’s new superintendent discusses the future of our schools

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Changes may be coming to your child's classroom in the new year. Tuesday night, we learned Indiana will be getting a new schools superintendent.

Republican Jennifer McCormick defeated the incumbent Glenda Ritz in a win even McCormick admitted was surprising. McCormick grew up in New Castle and has decades of experience in the classroom. She was previously a special ed and language arts teacher before moving on to be an elementary school teacher. She's been the Yorktown Schools Superintendent for the past 7 years.

McCormick sat down with CBS4 News to talk about her plans in the new year.

First on the list, is tackling new standardized testing. New state mandates that kicked the controversial I-Step testing to the curb, requires a team to develop recommendations for a new exam. Those are due before the end of the year. McCormick said while the process is slow moving, she's confident the team will develop a plan for a shorter and easier way to evaluate students that won't take away from general curriculum.

"It’s so sad that the conversations around Indiana right now are just about assessment, so making sure we broaden that up to talk curriculum and instruction, how it ties into that," McCormick said. She added, "the test is way too long and the administration of it was a nightmare. I witnessed that first hand being as superintendent. I’m confident we can get a test that meets the letter of the law with the new federal law and the state law that is shorter and gives us better information about how students are doing."

Part of this process includes evaluation for teachers.

"People understand to be held accountable and agree with that, but it’s gotta be fair. It’s gonna be transparent. It’s gotta be on high quality pieces to make sure that we’re being fair to teachers, so getting through that would be important. That would take legislative change to pull that assessment piece out until we have that figured out," she said.

Teacher shortages is also an issue Indiana schools have had within the last few years. McCormick said she hopes to find a way to bring in and retain good teachers. She also wants to tackle issues with broadband infrastructure.

"Funding is going to be huge this session, so we need to take a look at that, some of the funding formulas, circuit breaker issues. I have a lot of faith that we can have those conversations," McCormick said.

As far as working with the new Governor Elect Eric Holcomb, McCormick said she's excited.

"I think his heart’s in the right spot. We have a lot of work to do, but it goes back to making sure Indiana stays focused on students and making sure we move forward based on policies that will support that," she said.

McCormick said she spoke to Glenda Ritz who offered her assistance during the transition period. McCormick said she appreciated the gesture and she plans on taking her up on the offer.

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