Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

May 4, 2014

Raising bar in education

Indiana has a new set of education standards in math and English, and many Hoosier conservatives aren’t happy about it.

Gov. Mike Pence signed a law withdrawing Indiana from the Common Core State Standards in March. But opponents calling themselves Hoosiers Against Common Core say the state’s new educational measurements are just a repackaging of what’s in Common Core.

“Returning to our former standards, which were judged superior, provides an easy transition for students and teachers to begin planning for the next school year,” said Heather Crossin, one of the founders of Hoosiers Against Common Core, before the state’s Education Roundtable reviewed the new measurements last month.

On Tuesday, the Indiana Board of Education adopted the new state standards that were endorsed by Pence, state superintendent Glenda Ritz and the Education Roundtable. Pence, a Republican, and Ritz, a Democrat, rarely agree on anything. But both recognize embracing the old education measurements was not an option.

Those standards weren’t preparing Hoosier students for the rigors of college. Too often, college freshmen find themselves having to take remedial classes to catch up.

The Indiana College Readiness Report, released last year by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, suggests stiffer high school standards could increase college graduations.

Kokomo High School graduated 385 students in 2011, and 239 of them enrolled in college that fall, according to the report. Those who earned an honors diploma averaged a 3.0 grade point average their freshman year of college. Those who graduated with a Core 40 diploma averaged a 1.7 GPA.

Worse yet, 48 percent of Kokomo’s Core 40 graduates were required to take remedial classes at college. At the end of their freshman year, the Core 40 graduates averaged just 12.8 college credits — fewer than half the number needed to be considered a college sophomore.

Indiana spends about $7 billion a year on K-12 schools and claims to be a pioneer in education reform. Yet thousands of its high school students are graduating without the basic math, reading and writing skills needed to succeed in college.

The state’s required “college preparatory” diploma, Core 40, is not an indicator of college readiness. Like Indiana’s former K-12 education standards, it needs to be replaced with more demanding curricula.

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