New state schools chief discusses her priorities
"I see it's my job to support your efforts," she said.
More IDOE focus areas
Ritz emphasized that she believes there is too much focus on student assessment in Indiana.
"We have an Algebra 1 test to graduate," she said, "but you have kids who don't see the relevance of math because they've taken algebra again and again to get a waiver or graduate."
Math should be infused with other curriculum, she said, and students need real-world experience along with it.
Other initiatives Ritz said her office is working on include a family literacy program that'll be rolled out this summer "to create a culture of readers in the state."
She'd also like to augment funding for professional development for teachers.
And, she said, she's revisiting licensing requirements for teachers.
In the pedagogy vs. content debate, she said, "Our licensing requirements have gone too far over in one direction. ...We're too far in the content area, (lacking) pedagogy."
And, Ritz said, discussions will take place about potentially adding specialized diplomas in the state, such as a STEM diploma.
At the end of the forum, she took a couple questions from the audience.
Amanda Serenevy, executive director of the nonprofit Riverbend Community Math Center, told Ritz that area educators have invested much time in getting ready for the Common Core, a set of academic standards used by many states that are set to go into effect in Indiana.
"The old Indiana standards were a mile wide and an inch deep," Serenevy said. "The Common Core make students understand things conceptually."
"I can see huge leaps teachers are making, (but) I hear you saying you're not comfortable with the Common Core math (standards)," she said.
Teachers, Serenevy said, have asked her if they've wasted their time with Common Core.
Though she wants to review it, Ritz said, her intentions are not to do away with it before it's even implemented.
"Oh no, no, no," Ritz responded. "I'm not wanting to stop Common Core at all. I want to keep it right on going."
Just before leaving, Ritz said she was heartened by the conversations that had taken place.
"What we're having here," she said, "is the exact dialogue I want to have."
Staff writer Kim Kilbride:
The Associated Press contributed to this story.