Making the Grade
Provided a context for discussing
By Stan Jones
Stan Jones is Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education.
I APPLAUD THE EFFORTS of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education with their
recently released Measuring Up 2000 report. This first state-by-state report card on higher edu-cation
will assist the nation and states with assessing and addressing critical areas of providing stu-dents
the preparation needed to achieve, succeed and graduate from colleges that are affordable
and effective in producing an educated citizenry.
A bright future for the nation requires a well-educated workforce, particularly one with postsec-ondary
education. Our continued transformation into a wired global economy demands that we
educate our students to succeed in a highly competitive market. As such, the economic climate of
our states will be the beneficiaries of our investment.
As the Commissioner for Higher Education in Indiana, I have been intent on maintaining a high
level of collaboration with our state’s K–12 education system. Such coordination is vital for establish-ing
high academic standards that not only prepare students for successful completion of high
school, but also provide students with the necessary preparation for college acceptance and the rig-ors
of college academic work.
Another vital component for educational improvement on a system-wide level is through a
state’s legislation. In Indiana, our governor and state legislators have been deeply involved in the
development of higher education initiatives. Such initiatives set high standards and assessments,
provide the foundation for a more accountable education system where all of the state’s education
policies and programs are coordinated, and articulate a clear set of performance goals, measures
For several states, including Indiana, the report card has been timely in relation to these recent
educational reform policies. The basic dialogue within our state has revolved around the six areas
addressed within the Measuring Up 2000 report. The report verifies that we are on the right track. It
also provides an additional indicator of progress to a state’s current or developing assessment and
Although there will be dissention concerning the types of indicators used within each core area,
and the interpretation of the supporting statistics, one important aspect of the report cannot be
overlooked: It has provided a national as well as a state-level context for discussing higher educa-tion.
People now are talking more and more about the success and challenges within our colleges
A heightened public awareness will provide increased opportunities to pursue improvement in
areas vital to the success of our students. Measuring Up 2000 provides a unique opportunity to
assess our current state of higher education, indicating areas of success as well as areas needing
Looking toward the next report cards (to be released in 2002 and 2004), I offer the following
recommendations to assist states in achieving successful progress. First, the current release effective-ly
set the goal high in terms of the expectations for earning an A grade. I recommend maintaining
this goal in order to provide states a fair opportunity to assess and demonstrate progress. I would
also like to encourage the researchers to increase efforts in collecting the most recent statistics on
the defined indicators. With the current report card, Indiana’s grades could not reflect the recent
progress, since many of the initiatives recently instituted were not reflected in the evaluation. Finally,
I would suggest that the next reports provide a broader picture of higher education by including an
assessment of graduate education.
States such as Indiana will continue to work hard toward building a more educated workforce
by better preparing students for college, helping them succeed once they get there, and by provid-ing
increased opportunities for continued education and training throughout their lives. So, keep the
spotlight on the nation’s colleges and universities—and look for more progress in the future.