Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) is rolling out Proving What’s Possible, a new initiative to recruit and retain more diverse, high-quality teachers for IPS classrooms districtwide.
Proving What’s Possible encompasses new programs — including career pathways into the district, such as paid residency opportunities for teachers and principals — as well as a new website for teacher candidates to learn about the district and submit an interest form in 10 seconds or less, in-person networking/hiring events, and much more.
IPS Supt. Dr. Aleesia Johnson believes the new initiative, which comes on the heels of increases in starting pay for new teachers and recent salary hikes for classroom veterans, will make the district one of the most attractive in the nation to high achievers looking to start rewarding careers in education.
“TeamIPS proves what’s possible every day, from student achievement to teacher accomplishments and everything in between,” said IPS Supt. Dr. Aleesia Johnson. “While we continue working through our Rebuilding Stronger initiative, led by community input, and use our Strategic Plan 2025 as our roadmap, we know with full confidence that the district will be best set up for success with a passionate, talented and diverse teacher workforce leading our classrooms.”
“Widespread research shows that all students benefit when taught by a person of color, and that benefit is even greater for students of color,” she said. “This new initiative will build new pathways for talented educators to join our team while making sure our current excellent teachers feel supported and can grow in their careers.”
Proving What’s Possible is being launched by the IPS Talent Office to ensure schools have equitable access to highly-qualified educators. These new programs include:
· IndyTeach Apprenticeship is a no-cost, paid and fully-embedded educator training program offering a path to teaching for aspiring teachers. For this apprenticeship, the IPS Talent Office is partnering with Christel House Indianapolis, a local network of charter schools, to help participants through the one-year program and obtain an Indiana State Teaching License without the need to return to a university. Applications are now open and the first cohort will begin the program in Summer 2022.
· The IPS Principal Residency, the only current principal residency program in the state, is a year-long paid opportunity for high-potential school leaders, including assistant principals and current principals, to learn and grow within their IPS careers. Principal Residents will receive job-embedded development support that prepares them to lead significant academic achievement in their schools. The cohort will include four resident positions each year, and begin in Summer 2022. Applications are now open.
IPS research has found that a sizable gap exists between the race and ethnicity of teachers and students in the districts’ schools — much like in other major urban centers — with 26% of the teacher workforce identifying as Black or Latinx, compared to 85% of its students.
There have been signs of improvement in this space recently, including in the 2021–2022 hiring season when 38% of IPS teaching applicants identified themselves as a person of color, which was up significantly from 19% the previous season.
The IPS Talent Office also found other improvements in hiring trends, including:
- 32% of teacher hires identified as a teacher of color, up from 29% the previous season.
- The gap between the retention of all teachers and teachers of color has closed from 5% to 0.4%.
- In the 2021–22 hiring season, there were 11 applicants per teaching vacancy, up from six the previous year.
“Having a diverse teaching staff is incredibly important,” said Andrea Rodriguez, a sixth-grade teacher at Meredith Nicholson School 96. “In leading my classroom, I’m able to connect with my Latinx students through our shared experiences, and my non-Latinx students benefit from being a part of this supportive environment with a mix of perspectives and cultures. Plus, having a Latinx female leading their classroom shows them first-hand that they, too, can build a successful life and career, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Supt. Johnson believes concrete programs and supports are needed to continue to close the student-to-teacher diversity gap and further prioritize student access to quality instruction.
She said the district is making these areas a priority through Proving What’s Possible, and comprehensive commitments to improve equitable outcomes for students and staff fall at the center of both the 2025 IPS Strategic Plan and the district’s four-phase Rebuilding Stronger initiative, which begins Phase 2 in February.
Johnson also noted that the allocation of more resources to recruitment comes along with new teacher pay raises. IPS has the highest starting pay for teachers in Indianapolis and offers one of the highest teaching salaries in the Central Indiana Region — with teacher salaries ranging from $50,000 to $90,000 depending on the level of experience. For comparison, the average starting teacher salary in Indiana is $36,498.
“Diverse representation matters — it matters to our students, our current staff and to prospective staff and teachers considering joining our team,” said Corye Franklin, principal at Arsenal Technical High School. “Proving What’s Possible will help me attract teacher candidates who understand our school’s values, it will elevate the important voices of teachers and school leaders here in IPS, and it will help us retain the great teachers and leaders we have by providing important professional development support and career growth opportunities.”
Teacher and school leader candidates looking to join TeamIPS can visit the new Proving What’s Possible website at myips.org/provingwhatspossible to learn more and fill out a simple introductory form to get started.