Indianapolis – Governor Mike Pence today announced his appointments to the ISTEP review panel created by House Enrolled Act 1395 during the 2016 legislative session. The bill, signed into law by Governor Pence early this year, established a 23-member panel of experts in education to study alternatives to ISTEP and make recommendations for a shorter, simpler-to-administer test.
“Today we take an important step towards moving away from ISTEP to create a shorter, more reliable test,” said Governor Pence. “This dynamic slate of education experts and stakeholders, led by Nicole Fama – an accomplished and passionate public educator – will take the lead in developing the next iteration of assessment and accountability for our schools. Each candidate’s extensive expertise in the education realm and their willingness to weigh in as part of our panel will help ensure students in Indiana receive an excellent education, coupled with an alternative assessment model that will provide a strong foundation for accountability.”
Governor Pence’s appointments include:
- Nicole Fama, who currently serves as Principal of Indianapolis Public School (IPS) #93, has been chosen by Governor Pence to serve as chair of the Board. Prior to her role as Principal, she served as Dean of Student Discipline at Arlington Woods Elementary where she and four fellow educators implemented the Project: RESTORE program that has turned around multiple failing schools in IPS. Previously, Fama worked as a teacher at Brookside School #54 and Arlington Woods School #99. She received the Hubbard Outstanding Educator award Top 10 Winner in 2014, the Arlington Achiever Award in 2013, the Senator Richard Lugar Patriot Award in 2012, the Indianapolis City Council Peace in the Streets Award in 2011, and was awarded Teacher of the Year in 2006.
- Dr. Jim Roberts has spent much of his 29-year career in education with Batesville Community School Corporation, where he currently serves as Superintendent. In July, Dr. Roberts will move into the role of Superintendent of the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation. Previously, Dr. Roberts served as Assistant Superintendent of the school corporation, and as Principal and Vice Principal of Batesville High School. Dr. Roberts holds leadership posts in numerous academic organizations, including as the President of the Board of Directors for the Southeastern Career Center, the Southeastern Indiana School Insurance Consortium, and the Wilson Education Service Center, and as President of the Southeastern Indiana Superintendents Study Council. Roberts is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Ripley-Ohio-Dearborn Special Education Cooperative and the Indiana Virtual Academy, and co-founder of the Batesville Community Education Foundation and the CHOICES program, a preventative drug and alcohol program for adolescents.
- Charles (Chuck) Weisenbach is currently Principal of Roncalli High School in Indianapolis, where he has served for more than 30 years. During his tenure, the school was recognized three times by the United States Department of Education as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. Weisenbach currently serves on the Indiana Department of Education’s IHSAA Case Review Panel, and is a member of the National Catholic Educational Association, the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development, the Indiana Non-Public Education Association, and the Archdiocesan Principals Association. He is a recipient of the National Catholic Education Association Distinguished Graduate Award, and was named Archdiocese of Indianapolis Administrator of the Year this year.
- Brent Freeman currently serves as the Special Education Officer for Indianapolis Public Schools, where he oversees programming for more than 6,000 students who receive special education services. Prior to his role at IPS, he held numerous positions with Goodwill Education Initiatives, including Regional Director for central Indiana, School Director, and Special Education Coordinator. Previously, he served as a special education teacher at Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis and as a Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) teacher at Emmerich Manual High School.
- Dr. Michelle McKeowncurrently serves as a part-time Assistant Professor of Education Studies at DePauw University teaching courses on education and law. She also serves as the General Counsel and Director of Policy for the Indiana Charter School Board. Previously, McKeown served as General Counsel for the Indiana State Board of Education and in numerous policy and legal-related roles with the Indiana Department of Education. McKeown has also taught as an instructor at Indiana University – Bloomington School of Education.
The panel also includes the Superintendent of Public Instruction and her four appointees, the Commissioner of Workforce Development, the Commissioner of Higher Education, the Chairperson of the Senate Education & Career Development Committee, the Chairperson of the House Education Committee, a member of the State Board of Education, four President Pro Tempore appointments and four Speaker of the House appointments.
The ISTEP review panel will meet over the summer and fall months and submit its recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly by Dec. 1.