Mahan: Putting Hoosier students first

Posted by: Samantha Holifield  | Thursday, June 29, 2017 1:28 pm

I hope you and your family have been enjoying the summer weather. It’s hard to believe that June has already come and gone. With the summer comes a time of celebrating high school graduations. Congratulations to the many local seniors who completed this chapter of their lives. Your hard work has finally paid off, and our community is incredibly proud of your accomplishments. I know throughout your academic career you had a tremendous support system in your teachers. This year, I joined my fellow lawmakers in supporting a biennial state budget that is honestly balanced and provides an increase to the base funding for each K-12 student statewide. I also supported several other pieces of legislation that put students first. 

Starting off on the right foot is key to being successful in anything in life, especially school. Studies have shown at-risk children without high-quality pre-K often start kindergarten developmentally behind their classmates. To tackle this achievement gap as Hoosier children are just starting their academic careers, I voted to responsibly expand Indiana’s On My Way Pre-K pilot program for low-income 4-year-olds. This program, which originally only served five counties, is now available in 15 more. I am grateful that both Delaware and Grant counties have been selected to start enrolling students this year. To find out more about Indiana’s early education programs and to see if your family qualifies, visit www.in.gov/fssa and click on Early Learning/Child Care.   

Another way we can promote student success is ensuring they are on the right track year-after-year. I supported a new policy replacing Indiana’s troubled ISTEP exam with a new, more efficient statewide assessment system. Called ILEARN, it will better measure student growth toward Indiana’s college-and career-ready standards. This new system will be less disruptive to classroom learning as it will only be given during one testing window toward the end of the school year. Additionally, students will have multiple pathways to choose from to meet Indiana’s graduation requirements. Now, students will have opportunities to pursue a path that best fits their skill sets and aspirations, whether that be entering the workforce immediately after high school or receiving some form of postsecondary education. Hoosiers can be proud of this new assessment and these graduation pathways, which ensure that Hoosier students are getting the best education possible.

Teachers play a vital role in education. The single most important factor in a student’s success is a great educator. However, most teachers only become great by carefully honing their skills through experience. In other words, teacher retention is essential to having a good K-12 system. Studies suggest that most new teachers believe having access to a mentor has the greatest impact on developing their effectiveness as an educator. To encourage those in their first and second year to remain in the classroom, policymakers established a mentorship program for new Hoosier teachers and administrators. By strengthening our commitment to teaching professionals, Indiana will further drive student success. 

Our students hold the keys to our state’s bright future, and I am dedicated to supporting commonsense policies like these that help them grow and succeed. Good luck, graduates, in the next chapter of your lives! If I can ever be of help to you in the future, you can contact me at 317-234-9499 or h31@iga.in.gov. You can also sign up for my e-newsletter for regular updates at www.in.gov/h31.

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State Rep. Kevin Mahan (R-Hartford City) represents

portions of Blackford, Delaware, Grant and Wells counties.

A high-resolution photo of Mahan can be downloaded by clicking here.