GUEST COMMENTARY: Celebrate educators, others bringing about change

2013-09-18T19:45:00Z 2013-09-18T19:56:16Z GUEST COMMENTARY: Celebrate educators, others bringing about changeBy Tony Walker
September 18, 2013 7:45 pm  • 

Much attention the last five years has been given to empowering K-12 educators in Indiana, and rightfully so.

At recent meetings of the State Board of Education, a series of “good news” statistics were highlighted by my colleagues. The K-12 teachers and principals who ensured the achievement of these exemplary results need to be recognized for adeptly helping students experience improved learning outcomes.

The State Board of Education wants to congratulate the students, parents, teachers, administrators and policymakers for exceptional gains:

  • 88.4 percent of students graduated in 2012, an all-time high and a 9.4 percent increase since 2008.
  • 91.1 percent of students passed IREAD in 2013, an all-time high and an increase over the pass rate of 90.6 percent in 2012.
  • 71.5 percent of students passed both sections of the ISTEP+ in 2012, an all-time high and a 7 percent increase since 2008.
  • 70.6 percent of students passed both sections of the ECAs in 2012, an all-time high and a 15.3 percent increase since 2010.
  • 62.5 percent of graduates took the SAT and 27.9 percent took the ACT in 2012, and both are all-time highs. While the pool of test-takers has grown substantially in Indiana – in particular on the ACT (+63.5 percent) – our students have essentially maintained the same lead over the nation for the percentage of graduates testing college-ready (5 percent more).
  • 41 percent of graduates passed either an Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or Industry Certification exam, or earned dual credit in 2011. Students and teachers sailed past the expectation of 25 percent.
  • 32.6 percent of graduates took at least one AP exam during high school in 2012, an all-time high and a 12.1 percent increase since 2009. This increase is highest in the United States.
  • 14.8 percent of graduates’ passed at least one AP exam during high school in 2012, an all-time high and a 4.5 percent increase since 2009. This increase is the fourth-highest in the United States.

As we move forward in improving K-12 education in Indiana, let us continue to be courageous in constructing and implementing new policies, finding new and better ways to advance our children’s prospects for a better life. Moreover, let us be swift, loud and convicted in our gratitude, recognition and encouragement of the educators willing to try new ways of addressing the educational needs of our children.

Change is difficult, but when the outcome is the achievement of results like that which we have attained in recent years, we know the discomfort and challenges are worth it.

I ask responsible people of good will to focus on championing and applauding the parents, teachers and educational leaders willing to take a stand to empower our students, especially those most vulnerable and at risk of a life of poverty.

The evidence clearly shows we can and are being successful. Let us continue to support innovative approaches to education and enable principals, teachers, and parents to achieve aspirational education goals for our children and Indiana.

Tony Walker, of Gary, is a member of the Indiana State Board of Education. The opinions are the writer's.

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