Earlier this week, the Indiana Department of Education released results for the 2022 ILEARN state assessment, an annual evaluation of Indiana students in grades three through eight. While a single test can’t reveal everything about an individual student, ILEARN data is incredibly important in analyzing at the school, district, county, and state levels. In addition, this data provides critical information categorized by student groups—disaggregated by race and income—to help evaluate how historically marginalized students are progressing.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, educators and students across Indiana have had to work harder than ever to learn and grow during exceptionally trying times. We should celebrate the hard work and progress that has been achieved in terms of academic proficiency gains as demonstrated by the latest ILEARN results. However, the continued disparities in ILEARN outcomes for Black and Hispanic students—which worsened during the pandemic—are a stark reminder that we have much more work to do to ensure that all students in Indiana, especially Black students and other students of color, receive the education and support they need to graduate from high school, earn a post-secondary degree or credential, and find employment that provides a livable wage with benefits.
Business Equity for Indy (BEI), which launched in the fall of 2020, is focused on engaging employers to address racial disparities impacting Black individuals and other people of color in Indianapolis. Recently, BEI’s Learning & Talent Taskforce hosted an Employer Opportunities Summit to connect business leaders across the Indy region with critical resources to address equity within their industries and companies. As a result of insights shared during the summit, the BEI website now houses these employer recommendations, free for companies to reference and implement within their own organizations.
Additionally, the Taskforce assembled a virtual Education and Workforce Development Catalogue available to the public. This resource allows companies to search a database filled with over 200 local companies that are doing work to support the education and training needs of Black and Hispanic individuals, ages 0 to 25, in greater Indianapolis. Through BEI and the work of the Learning & Talent Taskforce, it is our hope that employers can engage in meaningful ways that improve education and workforce development outcomes for Black and Hispanic individuals and families.
Improving education outcomes for marginalized students will require the corporate community to engage in new partnerships, work across sectors, and ultimately, implement new strategies in how we do business to help solve these complex challenges. However, through programs like BEI, we have a reason to be hopeful that progress will come. Our collective commitment to today’s Black and Brown students is truly an investment in our future leaders and the future vitality of the Indy region.