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Dec. 16,
2016

 

School accountability, Innovation network
opportunities and increased support services for students are among the topics
Commissioners addressed at the December Agenda Review and Action Sessions.

 

Student-Based Allocations

 

Chief Financial
Manager Weston Young presented recommendations to Commissioners regarding the
rollout of Student-Based Allocations for school budgeting in alignment with IPS
Strategic Plan item 2.1, which calls for a weighted student funding formula to
promote equitable resource allocation. These Student-Based Allocations will
support equity by distributing resources based on student need; support
transparency by using clear and easily understood rules for where, how and why
dollars flow; and support flexibility by empowering principals to make smart
decisions based on unique student needs.

Commissioners
previously approved the concept of caps on gains and losses to school budgets,
along with additional weight for areas of greatest need. The Finance Division
proposed the following dollar amounts for Commissioners’ discussion and review:

 

  • Base
    allocation per pupil: $3,862
  • Supplemental
    allocation: $910 per pre-kindergarten pupil and self-contained pupil
  • Poverty
    weight: $500 per pupil in poverty
  • Grade-level
    weight: $400 per pupil for grades K-2, 7 and 9

 

 

As the
new budgeting model could lead to changes in overall budget allocations for
some schools, the Finance Division created a proposed system of caps on both
gains and losses to ease the transition into this funding model. Proposed caps
on budget increases are 4 percent per pupil and the proposed limit on losses is
6 percent per pupil, or the amount funded for two full-time employees. These
caps also ensure our school-based losses fund the gains, so the transition is
budget-neutral overall for the district.

 

The
first cohort of IPS autonomous schools piloted the Student-Based Allocation
process this school year; Principal Tihesha Guthrie of Arlington Woods School
99 shared the benefits she’s experienced in her school’s first year of
student-based budgeting. The flexibility to make staffing decisions within her
budget allowed Guthrie to create new positions to support her school’s focus on
Social and Emotional Learning. As the Arlington Woods leadership team
identified Social and Emotional Learning as a key factor in student success,
Guthrie created positions for a behavior specialist to provide proactive
support for students and for a Social and Emotional Learning teacher who leads
dedicated classes for students in all grades. Arlington Woods has experienced a
significant increase in attendance and a 64 percent decrease in suspensions
since the beginning of the school year, and Guthrie attributes these successes
to the new focus of her team. The entire Finance Division briefing can be found
here.

 

 

Career Technology Education Update

 

Career and
Technical Education (CTE) Director Ben Carter shared an update with
Commissioners on the continuing success of our CTE students. Enrollment in our career pathway
courses is on the rise: 1,871 students are currently enrolled, compared to 1,584
last year and 1,138 in 2014. More than 400 of our CTE students are completing
coursework eligible for dual-credit opportunities; this opportunity to earn
course credit at no charge to families can greatly ease the financial burden
for students down the line as they enter college with several courses already
complete. New pathways in the works for CTE include entertainment management,
pharmacy, and computer science. Upcoming plans for CTE include expansion of
Project Lead the Way from four schools in 2015 to 22 schools in 2019,
incorporation of career-driven academies, and efforts to increase student
awareness of CTE options and access to work-based learning. You can access the
full CTE presentation here.

 

Accountability Update

 

The IPS Academics
Division shared analysis of the Indiana Department of Education’s (IDOE)
accountability grades and preliminary growth data. School districts statewide
experienced a dip in ISTEP+ scores, and IPS experienced decreases in alignment
with state trends. IPS
saw a 2.5 percent dip in English Language Arts (ELA) proficiency, and a 5.4
percent drop in math for students in Grades 3-8. Statewide,
scores dropped 1.2 percent in ELA and 2.1 percent in math. However, ISTEP+ is not the sole factor
in a school’s accountability grade. Indiana’s student-centered accountability grades take three
components into account: ISTEP+ performance for students in Grades 3-8 and 10,
year-to-year growth for students in Grades 4-8, and multiple-measures data
points to calculate achievement in Grades 11 and 12.

 

IPS is
proud to be ahead of the state average in individual school growth scores. Our
average school growth score is 87.3 points, while the state average is 82.4
points IPS has several schools with scores above 120 – including traditional,
autonomous and Innovation network schools. George H. Fisher School 93 and Anna
Brochhausen School 88 led the district in growth scores, and Principals Nicole
Fama and Carmen Sharp shared highlights of their schools’ achievement
strategies with Commissioners.

 

“For
our students, it’s about being able to see success every week,” Fama said as
she described the Project: RESTORE model to the Board. This strategic
instructional model utilizes weekly formative assessments, where student growth
in core-content areas is recorded in real time. Students are able to track
their progress, and teachers can use the data to cater their upcoming lesson
plans to fit student needs. Fama says her school’s focus on tracking and
rewarding growth makes the regular assessments meaningful for students and
staff, and that’s the key to making consistent progress. The full presentation
on accountability and growth can be found here.

 

Counseling Redesign

 

Deputy Superintendent for Academics Dr. Wanda
H. Legrand shared an update with Commissioners on a redesign of IPS guidance
counseling services for review and discussion. A recent Board presentation from
ASCEND Indiana indicated that by 2020, 62 percent of Hoosier jobs will require
post-secondary education, and that currently there are too few students
concentrating their studies on high-demand career pathways. In order to align
with national standards and to provide students the best possible supports to
attain gainful employment in the future, IPS is redesigning the counseling
program. This updated support service will focus on college and career
readiness while providing more individualized support for our students.

 

The current job description for our guidance
counselors includes broad themes, with few metrics to measure success. The
proposed new job description would include more specific functions including
developing and managing a comprehensive school guidance program. Specific
metrics would hold counselors accountable to these functions and would provide
greater measures of districtwide progress. The proposed shift has been
communicated to our principals, counselors and school communities. Professional
development opportunities will begin in January to provide support for
counselors preparing for the new expectations of the team.

 

The IPS Academics Division is committed to
finding a variety of ways to support student and counselor success. District
leadership is submitting an application for a Lilly Endowment grant to explore
the possibility of advising centers, a supplementary service providing
additional supports for students to reach at least one of the “Three Es”
(Enrolled, Enlisted or Employed) by graduation. A new area of focus will be the
“13th year,” as IPS explores opportunities to support students in
the first year after high school as they transition to college, military life
or the workforce.

 

Graduation Update

 

IPS
Strategic Plan 2015 item 1.3 states the district will “encourage
and support the use of personalized education plans for elementary through high
school students that include graduation and post-secondary goals.” In
alignment with this directive, IPS Student Services introduced targeted
graduation supports for the 2015-2016 school year including graduation coaches,
individualized interventions and one-on-one monitoring to ensure students receive
the support necessary to graduate on time with a plan for life after high
school. These support systems, along with a districtwide focus on
post-secondary planning, are expected to garner favorable results when the IDOE
finalizes graduation outcomes for the 2015-2016 school year. IPS students
increased academic honors diplomas from 133 to 173, increased scholarship
dollars by 60 percent and maintained stable non-waiver graduation rates. The Student
Services team is pleased with this progress, but has even more plans to ensure
success in the future. Next steps for 2016-2017 include continued
individualized intervention and monitoring efforts, heightened focus on
subgroups (including Special Education and English as a Second Language),
increased parent communication and ongoing professional development.

 

Farewell to Commissioners Cosby and Odle

 

The
December Action Session was the final meeting for two of our Commissioners –
District 2 Representative Gayle Cosby and Vice President Sam Odle – who have both
served on the Board since 2014. As a graduate of IPS and a current IPS parent,
Commissioner Cosby is a passionate advocate for our alternative education
students, as well as our special education programming. Commissioner Odle
brought his business experience to the table at Board sessions, sparking a
recent focus on analyzing our purchasing trends and increasing spending
diversity through our district’s emphasis on doing business with minority-owned
vendors.

 

“I think
you each brought your own unique set of skills and passion to the Board,” said
Commissioner Dian Arnold, “and I wish you good luck as you move forward. My
sense is you’ll both stay connected to education and keep pushing us to make
good decisions on behalf of our children. We look forward to continuing to work
with you.”