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In partnership with Mass Insight Education (MIE),
Indianapolis Public Schools has started the exciting self-improvement work of
creating two Transformation Zones (TZ). These TZs pair a high school with two
feeder elementary schools to create a clear path and consistency in wraparound
services for students from pre-K through graduation.

George Washington Community High School paired with Louis B.
Russell School 48 and William Penn School 49 will form one zone. The other will
comprise Northwest Community High School paired with Lew Wallace School 107 and
Wendell Philips School 63.

In collaboration with MIE, IPS will engage in a four-phase
process. In the first, MIE conducts surveys and assessments in the district and
school community, gathering Information needed to recommend a design for
specific services. MIE will offer recommendations rather than mandates.

Carrie Hillyard, Director of Transformational Support in the
Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation in southern Indiana, embarked upon a
transformational journey with MIE in her district.

“Our lead from MIE helped us through that creation process
not necessarily dictating to us what should happen but making recommendations
for how we could more effectively leverage time, money, people, and programs in
our selected TZ schools,” she said. “This approach was invaluable because, as a
district, all of the decisions for the schools in the zone were made by the
district.”

Subsequent phases of the IPS process, taking place over the
next several years, will see the district build an Initial TZ and make
strategic decisions on funding, goals and long-term impact. An advisory council
will be formed and performance monitoring standards will be developed. From
there a service model will be activated with central office support, and a
sustainable strategy and structure will be created. Finally in phase IV
(beginning in July 2017), the outcomes of phases I-III will be reviewed,
revisions made and two more TZs will be created.

Jesse Pratt, Academic Improvement Officer over the IPS West
Learning Community of schools, is excited about the possibilities this process
brings to schools he oversees. “It is my hope that the Transformation Zone will
create a space for the design and delivery of innovative, flexible structures
and services that are responsive to school-site needs in order to drive
dramatic, transformational improvement in student achievement,” he said.

He then added, “This is an excellent opportunity to move
these selected schools forward in their growth and development. Schools will be
better prepared to the meet the needs of students while engaging families in
the learning process.”

Principal Crishell Sam of Louis B. Russell is equally
excited. Her school has already been at work with MIE, and she likes how the
process has started. “Focus groups were held to meet with all stakeholders
(students, parents, community partners, support staff, teachers and me), which
set the tone and the understanding that success is not obtained alone or in
isolation but through the gathering of information from all parties to identify
areas of strength and needed improvements.”

She noted how positive it is that the change is coming from
within the schools, within the community. “This partnership is not a top-down
experience, but one in which we partner and work alongside one another to bring
about the desired change we seek: positive academic outcomes for our students.”

IPS
is excited to shape these Transformation Zones and realize better opportunities
and results for our students and families within them. We’re just at the
beginning of our innovative work with MIE, but the ability to be the owners and
builders of our own improvement is a great place to start.