Ritz, McCormick square off in debate at IPFW

Republican Jennifer McCormick and Democrat Glenda Ritz met on IPFW's campus Monday for an hour long debate.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Candidates for Superintendent of Public Instruction squared off on IPFW’s campus for a televised debate.

From teacher accountability to high-stakes tests, Democrat Glenda Ritz and Republican Jennifer McCormick hit it all.

The state is currently searching for a new test to replace ISTEP. Ritz rolled out her ideas for a new test, but said the state committee overseeing the change hasn’t reviewed it.

“One approach would be that you actually have it three times a year but the other approach is that the first two would be optional and the last one would have the embedded questions for the summative test,” Ritz said.

McCormick, currently serving as Superintendent of Yorktown Community Schools, said changes should have been made years ago.

“It’s also unfortunate that we weren’t more aggressive in the first three years that we were having issues to start developing the plan, to start asking for information, to start requesting that of companies and vendors. When you’ve had three years of bad assessment there’s nothing to be celebrated at this point with that,” McCormick said.

When it comes to expanding pre-K, McCormick says it should start small and focused. Ritz wants to make it available to half of all the state’s four-year-olds by 2020.

“I would target the at-risk that are not currently being serviced by either special ed or Title 1 or already quality daycares,” McCormick said. “I would target that population first to make sure their needs are met and our feet are underneath us then we can move forward.”

“We mostly have daycare in the state of Indiana and we need educational programming for our four-year-olds,” Ritz said. “We are at the point now at the department where we can make that happen. The standards are in place, the small assessment is in place. We have more and more quality pre-Ks that are being brought into the fold.”

The full debate will air on PBS 39 Monday at 7 p.m..