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Meet Doug Thieme
The Indiana Youth Institute will host a forum from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Thursday at the Bowen Center, 2100 Goshen Road, Suite 102, to introduce Doug Thieme, the new Region 8 outreach coordinator for the Indiana Department of Education.

Ritz in city touting education outreach

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz visited Fort Wayne on Tuesday, hoping to drum up support for the Department of Education’s new outreach division for school improvement.

Ritz visited with Allen County education leaders, supporters and others at Grile Administration Center to announce the program and for a meet-and-greet time with her outreach staff.

The goal of the outreach division is to bring together community groups that serve students and focus on improving Indiana’s schools, she said.

“Outreach is a very unique concept that has not been done in the state of Indiana and I might say has not been done statewide in any state in the nation, so we’re embarking on something new.”

The process of outreach includes taking a close look at school improvement, such as student safety, discipline, instruction and parents’ roles in education, she said.

“It’s going to be more comprehensive, so we’ll be able to see where schools are actually making growth,” Ritz said.

The Department of Education has several education service centers already in place in the nine regions. The service centers, with help from an outreach coordinator in each region, will be given the task of reaching out to schools.

Those coordinators and service centers will focus on individual schools, Ritz said, by collecting data that can be used at the state level so officials can quickly identify a district’s needs and where to target support. Doug Theime will serve the northeast region of the state.

Ritz said she isn’t sure how the outreach division’s findings might affect the way schools are assessed, but she hopes having a more comprehensive way of evaluating student growth and school improvement will help ease concerns about the A-F accountability system.

“We are going to be talking about multiple measures, I hope, not just the ISTEP test or not just the testing program,” she said.