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Rebuilding Stronger: A Promise to All Students – The Draft Plan

Imagine an Indianapolis Public Schools where all students — regardless of race, socioeconomic status or neighborhood — have access to a variety of high-performing, high demand schools that provide rigorous and engaging academics, exciting extracurriculars, and competitive and club sports played on new and upgraded fields and courts, and athletic facilities.

More Excellent Offerings
Rebuilding Stronger will change the fundamentals so every IPS student has an experience defined by excellent choices. Every elementary school will have art, music, physical education, AND computer science classes.

Rebuilding Stronger also redesigns middle school around finding and deepening a learning passion. Our middle schools will be Grades 6-8, and they’ll help students explore what excites them — math, science, art — with course offerings based on their interests. A more robust middle school experience also sets students up for more success in high school. They can participate in athletics, bands, or more advanced algebra courses because they’ve already started developing these skills in middle school.

The IPS special education continuum will continue to include full inclusion, pull-out and push-in services. Every school, in every proposed zone, will continue to provide these invaluable inclusion services ensuring students access instruction in the least restrictive environment. To increase equitable access to specialized programs uniquely designed to serve students with the most intensive needs, Rebuilding Stronger ensures more programming is available, accessible in every zone for students’ whose case conferences agree upon the need, and placed in higher-performing schools with better facility conditions.

More Great Schools
Rebuilding Stronger will replicate and expand our high-demand, higher-performing programs in more neighborhoods and for more students. We will both increase seats in our higher-performing schools and increase the number of high-demand schools. We will focus on the east, west, and south sides of the city, where few Choice program options have existed. We will also improve facilities so our students are in buildings that reflect our values. 

More Equitable Access
Rebuilding Stronger will make our system more equitable by dividing our district into four zones, each of them roughly reflecting our city’s diversity by race and income. Families will now have a choice to sign up for any school in their zone and receive transportation. Maybe a child is excited by math and science — their family can choose a STEM learning program. Or maybe it’s important that a child can speak two languages — their family can choose a dual language school. And while the approaches vary, the access to high quality curriculum is consistent, so every child will learn to high standards in all of the programs offered. 

The Student Experience

As it stands today, the IPS student experience for both elementary and middle grades students is not consistent nor equitable. We want to ensure we can offer a high quality college-ready curriculum for all students no matter which school they attend.

In order to provide robust enrichment programs (band, foreign language, advanced math, etc.) across all school types, we need to make sure we can concentrate our people and financial resources through scaled schools.

The new Student Experience would take place the proposed four zones which would begin with the 2024-25 school year. Each zone would include between 12 to 15 schools and programs. Each zone will allow students and families to select from a multitude of school models.  

We also want to be very clear: This change alone does not guarantee higher outcomes for students. No particular grade configuration is the “magic bullet” to improving student achievement. No matter the school or the grade configuration, what impacts student achievement the most is quality teaching and learning — and rigorous and robust offerings. And that’s the focus of Rebuilding Stronger.


We will provide the IPS Student Experience to ensure every student has the opportunity to succeed and the power to create their own future. 


Every elementary student will have access to the K-5 Student Experience via a model of their choosing, which includes Inquiry Based, Montessori, Visual and Performing Arts, Dual Language, Reggio, STEM and High Ability

All K-5 students will have access to:

ArtsAll students have access to an art special class
MusicAll students have access to a music special class
Physical EducationAll students have access to PE special class
Computer/TechAll students have access to computer science
Core phonics curriculum Students have access to a curriculum that effectively teaches them to read. Students access a core phonics curriculum every day in grades K-3.
Library All students have access to a library with up-to-date collections and have opportunities to borrow books to enjoy at home.
College and career ready curriculumAll students have access to an EdReports vetted curriculum in ELA and math and have gone through the rigorous and DEI-aligned rubric. This puts them on track for accessing college-ready curriculum in middle school and high school.
High school connections By 5th grade, all IPS K-5 students will have attended at least one event at an IPS high school that allows them to “see themselves” in high school. This could be a musical experience, athletic experience, etc.

Middle School (6-8)

The middle school experience ensures students are exposed to a rigorous curriculum that sets students up to be successful in their high school pathway. Every student will have access to the model of their choosing, including Inquiry Based, Visual and Performing Arts, Dual Language, STEM and High Ability.

All 6-8 students will have access to:

Music and ArtsStarting in sixth grade, all students have opportunities to access music, specifically the option to learn a musical instrument. Students may select visual arts or choral music instead. 
What does this mean: Every student may choose to learn a musical instrument. Students may choose a visual arts or choral arts elective instead.
AthleticsStarting in sixth grade, all students have access to athletic programming that provides them with training in the foundational skills of offered sports and prepares them to compete in athletics at the high-school level.
Advanced math programmingAll 7th grade students have access to pre-Algebra at their home school; all 8th grade students have access to Algebra I at their home school, making it possible for them to complete Calculus by the time they graduate. 
College and Career CounselingStarting in 7th grade, all students have access to coursework designed to ensure they are tracking to select the high school pathway that best supports their future aspirations. 
Foreign languageStarting in 7th grade, all students have the opportunity to learn a foreign language. This allows them to access AP foreign language by the end of high school if they choose.
Civics, Social Studies The state is requiring middle school civics for all 6th grade students during the 2nd semester, and educators with a general elementary licensure are eligible to instruct the course if taught within the elementary setting. These must be implemented during the 2023-24 school year. We will offer civics and social studies for all 6, 7, 8th grade students starting in school year 2023-24.

We will offer similar Middle School options per zone that offer programmatic curriculum, which apply unique methods of learning. These include:  

  • STEM – integrates science, technology, engineering, and math in the curriculum.   
  • IB – inquiry driven learning. This will offer the IB Middle Years Program (MYP), which prepares students for the rigor of IB at the high school level.  
  • Dual language immersion programming – with a focus on bi-lingual education will also be available across all four zones.

All of these align to our high school programs and provide the foundational academic prep for high school success.

The criteria we used for selecting a Middle School program were as follows:

  • The academic experience should be rigorous across all grade-levels
  • The academic experience and programming in our future middle schools should build on the curriculum decisions that are currently being implemented or will be implemented in the next one to three years.
  • We want to build an academic experience that allows our students to explore many interests, but do not “track” students too early. We believe students should explore their interests and choose their path based on their interests, future career goals, and what they are good at.  
  • The experience and programming in our future middle schools should be broad enough to enable and enhance student exploration. 

Special Education Programming (Pre-K-8)

Students with disabilities are general education students first and receive special services in conjunction with the general education curriculum. Because of this fact, most students with an IEP will experience the same benefits from Rebuilding Stronger as their peers. For students with intensive needs, increased support from specialized teachers, specially designed instruction, assistive technology, and other student-centered services will make the vision of the student experience more accessible and more equitable.

Every school, in every zone, will continue to offer full inclusion, push-in, and pull-out services for students with disabilities. For students whose case conference committee agrees that services must be provided within a specialized program, the following special education programs will be accessible in every zone:

Programs for Young ChildrenPrograms for Young Children (PYC) is designed to provide high-quality, early childhood experiences, intervention services, and specially designed supports for children ages 3 to 5 (who have not yet entered Kindergarten) and their families. PYC Offers: developmental evaluations, walk-in speech services, Language Class, Developmental Preschool, inclusion preschool, and community preschool services. The Rebuilding Stronger plan has allowed for intentional pairing of Developmental PreK and general education PreK to ensure access to inclusion and greater preparation for an authentic kindergarten experience.
AutismAutism, Reach, and Nest are programs designed to support students on the autism spectrum. Depending upon students’ needs, services like applied behavior analysis, social-communication supports, research-based behavior intervention strategies, and specialized curricula are utilized to help students thrive and find success.
Life SkillsLife Skills programming is designed to support students with severe and profound and moderate cognitive disabilities, multiple handicaps, ASD, and those who have a dual-sensory impairment who, in most cases, are unable to access the general education curriculum. Programming for older students is designed to be community-based. Students have an opportunity to learn skills in the classroom and then apply this knowledge through age-appropriate activities in the community. 
ArchesArches programming is designed to be a work-readiness initiative for students in grades 6-12 who have developmental and intellectual disabilities that fall generally in the mild range. Arches programming combines academic instruction with social and vocational skills instruction.   
Intensive InterventionThe Intensive Intervention program is designed to provide wraparound support for students with intensive behavioral needs. Programming aims to teach students coping and executive functioning skills, provides access to mental health services, and teaches and reinforces socially acceptable behaviors and competencies that transcend the classroom.