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Indiana Addresses Achievement Gaps for Students of Color

Numbers are improving, but there's still a racial achievement gap in Indiana schools. (Veronica Carter)
Numbers are improving, but there's still a racial achievement gap in Indiana schools. (Veronica Carter)
January 5, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS - The numbers are improving, but there's still a long way to go for students of color graduating and going on to college in Indiana.

Two years ago, the state passed a resolution to close the racial achievement gap by 2025. Commissioner Teresa Lubbers, who heads the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, says progress has been made, but the commission knows it isn't fast enough to meet the goals that were set.

"There are places where there are colleges that don't have an achievement gap," says Lubbers. "They are more the exception than the rule, but it means there are practices in place that can allow you to close the achievement gap. And that's what we're committed to doing in Indiana."

The commission's most recent College Readiness Report says 62 percent of African American and 53 percent of Hispanic teens in the state go on to college after high school, compared to 66 percent of white students.

Nationally, the high school graduation rate for all students is 80 percent.

Lubbers says the biggest challenge is getting poor and minority students to believe that, even though no one else in their family has ever gone on to college, they can. She notes Indiana is celebrating it's 25th year of the '21st Century Scholars' program, which is geared towards first-generation students.

"Often, they don't think college is for them," says Lubbers. "Some of it is an academic preparation issue, some of it is a financial issue. So, we've told our scholars and other students, 'If you're academically prepared, we will make certain you can afford to go to college.'"

Of students who participate in the '21st Century Scholars' program, 76 percent go on to college.

Veronica Carter/Judy Steffes, Public News Service - IN