Report: Indiana’s achievement gap is closing; work still needs to be done

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — New numbers show Indiana students are moving closer to closing the achievement gap.

But at least one state education leader says there’s still work to be done.

Student Vaishnav Inabathula, 19, of Fishers, is one of those helping to close the gap. He graduated from high school in May and was the first in his family to go to college. His path to study marketing at Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis wasn’t always smooth, but he made it.

“And if I put enough effort in high school, I knew if I go to a college, I can definitely get a good job in the next four years or so,” Inabathula said.

Newly released 2019 Indiana College Equity Report data shows almost 10,000 more students graduated high school in 2017 than 2007. Of minority students, 86% of Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars enrolled in college within a year of graduation. That’s higher than the state’s average of 63%. One reason: More scholars took early college credit courses in high school.

“So, they’re taking advanced placement, they’re taking dual credit,” said Teresa Lubbers, Indiana’s commissioner for higher education, on Wednesday. “They’re leaving high school with college credit. So, they’re seeing themselves as college material as well.”

New college student Inabathula said, “I think that’s wonderful. That shows that Indiana’s taking the public school education system a lot more seriously.”

The report states just 16% of black students and 25% of Hispanic students earn Indiana’s Academic Honors diploma, the state’s most rigorous, while 40% of white students earn that diploma. Lubbers said there’s more work to be done.

“The kind of diploma you get in high school is directly linked to your college-going rates and your college success. We need fewer low-income students to end up leaving high school with a general diploma,” Lubbers said. “More of them should have the Core 40 (curriculum) and more of them should have the academic honors diploma.”

Inabathula was not a 21st Century Scholar, but he’s got these encouraging words for high schoolers: “You put effort, you work hard, it’ll all pay off in the end, trust me on that,” he said.

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