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On April 15, the Indiana State Board of Education will take action to decide the future
plans for the three IPS schools currently in state intervention: Broad
Ripple Magnet High School for the Arts and Humanities
, George
Washington Community High School
and Arlington Community High
School
. On April 13, the
Board held a public hearing for all three schools at Arsenal Technical High
School. To get a full picture of the state of each school, the Board reviewed
presentations from each school’s principal and heard public comments shared by
students, staff and community members.

 

Five years ago,
these three schools were placed in state intervention because of chronic low
performance. Now, the Board will decide whether these schools will remain in
the turnaround program with the support of a lead partner organization or
return to full IPS oversight.

 

Broad Ripple
Principal Dr. Briant Williams shared a presentation with the Board highlighting
successes at the high school. Five years of “F” accountability grades put Broad
Ripple in intervention in 2011, but the Rockets have earned a “B” the last four
years.

 

“Broad Ripple has
afforded me some wonderful opportunities, as I share with my students on a
regular basis,” said 16-year Broad Ripple Choral Director Denise Johnson, who
is also a Broad Ripple graduate. “I implore you to return Broad Ripple to IPS.”

 

“It was in a Broad
Ripple classroom that I found a love of teaching,” said alumna and aspiring
teacher Alex Calvillo, “and I hope to someday be as passionate about education
as my teachers were.”

 

Sophomore Jasmine
M. summed it up for the Board when she exclaimed, “the spirit of Broad Ripple
is strong!”

 

The Board is expected to recommend the
return of Broad Ripple to IPS completely, and we couldn’t be more proud of the
positive outcome!

 

Representatives
from George Washington Community High School touted the drastic improvement in
school culture and climate the school community has achieved over the last two
years, leading to a positive trend in student outcomes. Principal Emily Butler
presented information on significant gains in credit recovery, positive
disciplinary trends, community partnerships and support systems.

 

“The number of
positive interactions between staff and students I am able to witness on a
regular basis is inspiring,” said school counselor Andrew McAuley. “There is an
enthusiasm for learning that has grown exponentially throughout the school
year.”

 

George Washington
is part of a Transformation Zone (TZ), created as a turnaround strategy for
state intervention. Next year, George Washington will implement Opportunity Culture, a strategic model increasing the reach of strong teachers to impact
more students.

 

“As a
Transformation Zone school, building support is increased to address the
individual needs of students,” said teacher Lashawna Tramill. “Through TZ,
classroom sizes have decreased and teachers are able to maximize bell-to-bell
instruction. An environment has been created where teachers can be successful
inside and outside of the classroom.”

 

George Washington
parent Mimi Brown praised the school staff for taking great care to identify
her son’s learning disability and develop a plan to address his educational
needs. “You guys are awesome – really really awesome,” said Brown. “You’ve
taken a weight off of my shoulders. Don’t change anything about George
Washington, because they’ve got the best people.”

 

The Board is
expected to recommend George Washington to remain an IPS Transformation Zone
school, and we look forward to continued success for the Continentals!

 

Arlington Community
High School was originally removed from IPS control, but returned to the
administration at the beginning of the 2015–2016 school year. Principal Stan
Law addressed challenges faced early in the year related to student behavior
and relationship-building, and the Arlington community shared reports on the
vast improvement seen in the school throughout the year. Four culture and
climate initiatives were identified to foster this growth: parent workshops and
communication; community partnerships; weekly assessments and Professional
Learning Communities; and Advanced Placement (AP) and dual-credit courses.

 

“When we came to
Arlington, there had not previously been AP or dual-credit opportunities for
scholars,” said Law. “We implemented four AP classes this year, and we’re
planning to expand. We’re partnering with Ivy Tech on dual-credit opportunities
for students as well.”

 

Law also reported
that Arlington expects to reach or surpass this year’s target graduation rate
of 69 percent (last year’s graduation rate was 40.5 percent). Personal contact
with students and families, including home visits and intervention plans with graduation
case managers, are credited for the success in ensuring more students remain on
the path to graduation.

 

“I can honestly say
this is the best principal and staff I’ve never had any association with,” said
Arlington graduate and supporter Janice Baker. “They care not only about
education, but the students’ home environment. It was kind of rocky at first,
but those children will tell you now that they enjoy coming to school. We look
at Arlington as our home. We lost our home, but now we have it back and we’re
ready to build it up to what it used to be. Together we can, and together we
will!”

 

Math teacher Tina
Ahlgren won the Hubbard Life-Changing
Teacher Award
and the IPS Teacher of the Year
Award
, then decided to
leave her classroom at Shortridge High School the same year. “Why did I leave a
school I loved? I knew the young men and women of AHS needed me more,” Ahlgren
said. “We have a core group of dedicated, phenomenal educators who will not
rest until Arlington becomes a success. We are getting people to Arlington who
want to be there, who love our kids and who know that those kids will be
successful.”

 

Arlington Senior
Jason S. acknowledged the rocky start to the school year, but commended the
school staff on finding solutions by building a sense of community with the
students.

 

“As the school year
went on, as the teachers and students got to know each other,” said Jason,
“things got better. There’s a general improvement with our behavior, and we’re
building relationships. The teachers are there for us in school and out of
school, it’s great!”

 

Arlington joined the
Transformation Zone this school year, and the Board is expected to support IPS’
proposal to maintain the same status going forward. This has been a
transformative year at Arlington, and we know the Knights will charge on to
great things in 2016–2017!