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Learning Curve

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Another sign of school success

The U.S. Department of Education has released its first-ever comparison of state-level graduation rates and Indiana– to no surprise – ties for third highest in the nation. Iowa was ranked No. 1 at 88 percent; Wisconsin and Vermont tied for second place at 87 percent. Indiana is tied with Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas with a rate of 86 percent.

Before the current administration of the Indiana Department of Education takes credit, it should be noted the graduation rate is for the class of 2011. Its members were halfway through their sophomore year of high school and well on their way to graduation success before Superintendent Tony Bennett took office.

Credit for Indiana's increasing graduation rate rightly goes to former state Superintendent Suellen Reed, who over 16 years in office implemented policy supported by research, not by education profiteers.

Florida – Indiana's education model over the past four years – ranked 41st.

Indiana's stellar performance will surprise only those who bought into the unfounded claims that the state's public schools are failing. It's easier to take over schools and run them at a profit or to collect ever-increasing amounts for employee retraining by misleading taxpayers about the performance of their schools.

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