[r82] Column: A look at Indiana's education system (5/21/2013)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Start Date: 5/21/2013 Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 5/21/2013 End Time: 11:59 PM
A look at Indiana’s education system
Every year, the Legislature looks at Indiana’s education system and analyzes ways to improve so more students graduate high school and pass important tests – like ISTEP+, IREAD-3 and AP exams – to realize their future aspirations. Sometimes education policy can become politicized, but the truth is that both sides really want what is best for students and Indiana’s future.
With any changes to how Indiana educates children, teachers seem to be unfairly targeted as the culprits. This couldn’t be more untrue. Administrators, faculty, teachers and everyone else that keeps our schools running day-in, day-out deserve our utmost respect and appreciation. They interact with some of the brightest young minds and get to inspire the future leaders of Indiana. Every educator wears their heart on their sleeve and works tirelessly to make sure no child is left behind or falls through the cracks of society.
I remember my 5th grade teacher Mrs. Donna Maierle, who dedicated every moment of every day with her students to prepare us for what we would experience as we continued our education and beyond. She was a mentor for us and an example of the type of the hard work and commitment that I continue to see in teachers as I travel around northeast Indiana.

Indiana has seen tremendous gains over the last few years in academic achievement, graduation rates and college preparedness. In 2011, 86.61 percent of students graduated high school. This number has continued to climb as 88.31 percent of students graduated in 2012. The number of students passing ISTEP+ also rose 1.1 percent to 72.4 percent. There’s more work to be done, but progress continues to be made as Hoosier families now have more options to choose the best fit for their child and where they should receive an education.
In District 82, which includes all of Noble County and portions of Allen, LaGrange, Elkhart and Whitley counties, two of our schools have been recognized by being considered 4-Star schools: Eel River Elementary School and Hickory Center Elementary School – both are a part of Northwest Allen County Schools. In order to achieve this designation, the school must be in the top 25th percentile of schools in ISTEP+ testing results. Twenty-one schools in Fort Wayne were recognized as 4-Star Schools of a total of 313 statewide.
The school year is winding down or for some has already ended. For those who are graduating, congratulations on this great accomplishment - having an education is the most powerful tool one can possess. It will open unlimited doors and provide greater opportunities.
Our community continues to lead in educational endeavors where Hoosier children can learn and grow, building a brighter future. There’s more work to do as Baby Boomers head towards retirement and the upcoming generation has to have the skills to fill their vacancy. As we move forward, I will continue to work with our educators to strengthen our education system to best serve Hoosier students and help position them to be prepared for the workforce.