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Opinion

September 26, 2012

Our View: Raising the bar on education

A legislative study committee is looking at a plan that would shift the focus of the senior year in high school toward preparing students for a career or college.

The Commission on Education and Workforce Development put forward the proposal in cooperation with the Indiana University Public Policy Institute.

Under the plan, students who had shown they were ready would basically spend their senior years taking classes they would previously have taken as freshmen in college. Others would spend that final year training for a vocation, and still others would spend it getting ready for college or career training.

Too often, the report says, students go to college only to find themselves having to take remediation classes to catch up. The commission’s plan would have kids taking those classes during their senior year in high school.

The overall goal would be to nearly double the number of Hoosiers with college degrees by 2025.

The commission says the changes it outlines in its report are needed to prepare Indiana’s work force to compete in a 21st century economy.

It notes that in 2010, Indiana ranked 41st in the United States in per capita personal income, down from a ranking of 33rd in 2000. The state’s poverty rate stood at 16.3 percent in 2010, up from 8.5 percent 10 years earlier.

Among the Midwestern states of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, the Hoosier state ranks at or near the bottom in terms of educational attainment, the report says. In 2000, the report says, Indiana ranked fifth in terms of poverty. Ten years later, it had the highest rate among those states.

To say the commission’s plan is ambitious might be an understatement. The state’s current goal, which it has not yet achieved, is to have 25 percent of high school students completing dual-credit coursework or passing an advanced placement exam.

The new plan would be to have two thirds of students earning at least six college credits.

Achieving these objectives would be a daunting task. The alternative, though, might be to fall further behind.

By 2018, 55 percent of Indiana jobs will require some postsecondary education, according to a recent report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

The state must act to meet that demand. The next generation is counting on it.

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