State School Superintendent: School Testing Must Continue

By Corinne Rose

August 16, 2012 Updated Aug 16, 2012 at 6:41 PM EDT

BLUFFTON, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) -- State school superintendent Tony Bennett visited Bluffton High School Thursday, where he defended the state's rigorous testing practices and said residents need to vote to hike their property taxes to rebuild schools.

"The state's job is to set standards and hold people accountable to the standards. The local control occurs how you make those decisions in the middle to meet the standards," Bennett said.

Bennett gave the Bluffton High School freshman class a pep talk before they signed a banner pledging to graduate.

Before they do, they'll go through many statewide tests to measure their performance... a practice Bennett defends... saying kids only spend seven and a half hours out of 180 school days taking tests.

"We are not teaching to the test, we are teaching to rigorous standards. And if our students master those standards, those results become evident on tests," Bennett said.

What is evident in Bluffton is the emphasis on education and how it's valued. The district has even outfitted every student with an ipad.

"There's no doubt that Bluffton has beautiful facilities. But for districts that have crumbling buildings or need other infrastructure improvements, Dr. Bennett says it's up to them to impress upon their residents why a property tax levy is necessary to pay for those repairs.

"I would say to school communities, one, make sure we're delivering the highest quality instruction and that our graduates are prepared for post-secondary life. And I would say when you do that, school communities will believe in the local school district and invest in the local school district," Bennett said.

And Bennett said every district can provide its students with ipads if it allocates its resources properly.

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