When it comes to the building blocks of education, literacy is paramount in the daily experience of our students. Indianapolis Public Schools strives for continued growth in all areas, and we are proud of the increased focus our instructional coaches have put on literacy and the gains our students have shown from this initiative.

“We targeted growth areas including balanced literacy, diagnostics and coaching,” said Tammy Bowman, Curriculum Officer for IPS. “These focal points helped the district to improve performance in literacy metrics for 2014, and helped to pave the way for future growth.”

Balanced literacy is a keystone for growth for the district. “It helps to ensure teachers fully comprehend the components of our reading blocks and can tailor their instruction to the needs of individual students,” Bowman said. A solid balanced literacy plan is so important. IPS curriculum leaders are planning more in-depth professional development opportunities in this area for the future.

Creating our own district diagnostic tools is another way our leaders fostered growth in IPS teachers and students. The curriculum and instruction team developed metrics to identify areas of opportunity for improvement as well as innovative ideas for re-teaching aspects of English/Language Arts (ELA) standards in a new way to students who did not pass ISTEP+.

Professional development is vital to better serve our students. Teachers participated in corrective instruction workshops to learn about the diagnostic initiatives developed by the team and how to implement them in the classroom. As we look ahead to new state standards, teachers are taking part in coaching sessions to learn more about the new expectations and what reading blocks will look like for our students.

The product of our literacy initiatives is already beginning to show! ISTEP+ ELA scores improved districtwide in grades 4-7 last year. Significant improvement of 5 percentage points or more was shown in 13 of our schools! The rising ELA scores helped to boost the district’s state accountability score more than 50% and raise the IPS grade by one letter.

Gains can already be measured, but the curriculum and instruction team has a higher bar in mind. “We are drafting a comprehensive literacy plan to pinpoint more growth areas and ways to achieve those goals,” said Bowman. We look forward to the innovative ideas of our instructional leaders and the continued impact of their work!​