Indianapolis Public Schools is proud to be honored as one of 10 Districts Rising – an initiative highlighting the strategies school districts throughout the country are employing to foster significant gains in service and student achievement. With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Education First and KSA Plus Communications developed the briefs, which shine a spotlight on successful initiatives implemented at each district, including IPS.


One of the primary examples of strategic problem solving highlighted in Districts Rising is the work IPS leadership has completed in the areas of school Autonomy and Innovation partnerships. Our Innovation Network Schools and our Autonomy ‎pilot to give strong school leaders greater management flexibility through Autonomous schools have drawn national attention once again. Earlier this year, Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee was honored by Education Week as a “Leader to Learn From” for his efforts to promote innovative school partnerships. In 2015, the IPS Board of School Commissioners approved a framework outlining three tiers of school flexibility and independence: Traditional Schools (district-managed), Autonomous Schools (site-managed) and Innovation Schools (partner-managed). By employing unique strategies to find each school community’s best fit, we look forward to continued advances in school climate and achievement as we attract and retain even more families in future years.


Districts Rising also recognized IPS for our commitment to recruiting and retaining talented educators. We are thrilled to introduce rewarding roles for veteran teachers through Opportunity Culture (OC), an engaging, higher compensation staffing model also highlighted in our Districts Rising brief. Schools in our Transformation Zones will kick off the 2016-2017 school year under the OC models selected by their own leadership teams; these innovative instructional staffing designs allow our strongest teachers an opportunity to reach more students while earning up to $18,000 above their standard salary!


The main reason for these efforts, and the implementation of IPS Strategic Plan 2015, is to promote student achievement. IPS students have already seen gains under the current administration’s leadership, including:


  • Rise in graduation rates
  • Increase in first-attempt passing rates on End of Course Exams (ECAs)
  • Dramatic improvement in AP exam passing rates
  • Decrease in schools designated as “failing” by the Indiana Department of Education
  • Improvement in our district’s overall accountability grade


“It is promising to see public-facing recognition of the hard work of our students, educators and leadership,” said Dr. Ferebee. “Our efforts are only beginning and there are many opportunities to continue growing, but we are proud to see this acknowledgement that IPS is moving the needle.”


All of the accomplishments noted in our Districts Rising report were made despite continued financial challenges. IPS has experienced significant decreases in state funding, yet through strategic and creative planning has found opportunities to invest in the growth of our school communities.


“We’re pleased that we are beginning to see the positive effects of recent changes in our district,” said Board of School Commissioners President Mary Ann Sullivan. “Change can be difficult, but it can also be exciting. The IPS board is committed to maintaining positive momentum for students and staff. We look forward to celebrating even greater successes as these new initiatives really take hold.”


You can read the entire Districts Rising brief highlighting the successful initiatives underway at IPS here.