Results show some improvements for local students

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New results show some improvement in test scores and graduation rates for local students, but experts say there’s still more work to be done.

The Central Indiana Education Alliance (formerly the Central Indiana Talent Alliance) released its annual report Wednesday, showing a 13-percent increase in the percentage of students graduating from high school in Marion County over the last four years.

Local ISTEP results are up too in recent years, with 68% of eight-graders passing the language arts test and 75% passing math.But Marion county’s rates are still well below the state average.

“We can do better, and deal with some of these shortcomings,” said IUPUI chancellor Charles Bantz, who chairs the Education Alliance. “I like the growth in the high school grad rates (and) ISTEP scores… I’m concerned that we’re still below the state on ISTEP scores. That’s still something we have to work on.”

Also according to this year’s study, more than 125,000 people in Marion County have some college experience but no degree. The study also looks at poverty rates- showing roughly 1 in 3 children are living in poverty in Marion County.

“We need students to be successful as literate citizens and we need to increase the opportunities for high school graduates,” said advisory committee member Pat Rogan.

So what about the future? Experts say it’s important to start young, and they’re pleased the state is starting a pilot program to help disadvantaged families pay for preschool.

“It’s really an important step,” said Bantz. “The data shows it will help.”

The study is also important to the local business community.

“Many people assume that the business community would support this because we’re looking for better educated workers, and that’s true, but mostly it’s about the impact of quality of life on our community,” said Citizens Energy CEO Carey Lykins.

“It’s very important,” said Patricia Bardin with the Fashion Mall at Keystone.

The alliance also announced its inaugural Education Weekend, which will be held May 16 to 18, at the Fashion Mall and other locations.

Some of the events include:

-STEAM Day, to showcase educational achievements in science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
-A special viewing of the 2000 blockbuster movie “Remember the Titans.”
-Panel discussions on faith and education, and the impact of Brown v. Board of Education on access and equality on the 60th anniversary of the decision.
-The presentation of the Rotary Equity Awards in honor or memory of community leaders who have had a positive impact on education.