EDITORIAL: Indy Calls on Reform Plans to Deliver Results

From The Indianapolis Star:

With the General Assembly having ended work just yesterday, Gov. Mitch Daniels and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett already have gained everything of substance they wanted out of the 2011 session in terms of education reform.

The ability to provide performance-based pay for teachers? Yes. A mechanism to significantly expand the number of charter schools? Check. An end to outdated, often counterproductive, work rules for educators? Done. Creation of the most expansive private-school voucher system in the nation? Approved.

There’s even an unforeseen bonus expected to emerge from this session. Although lawmakers have yet to approve the state’s two-year budget, full funding of all-day kindergarten in every school district in the state, an item not on the agenda at the start of the session, is likely to pass because of a partial rebound in tax revenues.

All of this was accomplished despite a misguided five-week walkout perpetrated by House Democrats, and misplaced howls of protest from entrenched defenders of the status quo.

But now comes an even harder test for Daniels and Bennett. Given essentially everything they’ve asked for in terms of reforms, the governor and the superintendent will be graded over time on the success of those measures. Will high school graduation rates break the 90 percent level? Will scores on math, reading and science tests rise substantially? Will more students be well prepared for higher education? Will a state with a badly undereducated workforce train and retain skilled workers in the numbers needed to compete in an information-based economy?

Those questions can’t be answered quickly. Daniels will be out of office and Bennett deep into a potential second term before enough data will have been collected to accurately and fairly judge the success of the reform measures approved this year.

Indiana, in many respects, has set itself up as an education laboratory. Historically slow to embrace innovation, the state has stepped to the front of the class in adoption of education reforms.

Read more here: http://www.indystar.com/article/20110429/OPINION08/104290319/High-expectations-reforms