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An objective view

Indiana schools can't seem to win for losing, it seems. The day after the Department of Education announces an increase in the statewide average ISTEP+ passing rate, the headline in one Indiana newspaper reads, "State's students improve on ISTEP, but gains are not as big as last year's".


The Journal Gazette's headline doesn't include the disparaging qualifier: "Scores spring ahead: Across state and region, ISTEP+ numbers inch higher"

The fact is that teachers and administrators across the state are working harder than ever and the test results show it. If that doesn't fit the picture some critics would like to paint, an outsider's view of state performance should cheer Indiana educators.

The Science and Engineering Readiness Index, developed by Susan Wite from the Statistical Research Center at the American Institute of Physics and physicist Paul Cottle of Florida State University, ranks each state on a scale of 1 to 5. The survey looks at how students perform in physics and calculus on common assessments like the Advanced Placement exam.

Indiana ranks ninth in a list topped by Massachusetts, Minnesota and New Jersey. Not bad at all in a field that's vital to the state's economic prospects.

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at