The board picked Bennett from a slate of three finalists.
The others were Murray State University President Randy Dunn, who once served as state superintendent in Illinois, and Arlington, Va., education consultant Charles Hokanson, a former deputy assistant U.S. secretary of education in President George W. Bush's administration.
Bennett led efforts in Indiana to adopt many of the accountability changes pioneered by Florida.
Former Commissioner Gerard Robinson resigned in August after only about a year on the job. He cited separation from his family in Virginia where he previously had been secretary of education.