In the wake of the release of school grades from the Indiana Department of Education, Indiana University’s Center for CEEP Policy Chat on Wednesday centered around one idea to help struggling school districts improve.
David Harris is the founder of The Mind Trust – a non-profit which seeks to improve schools in part by reducing the number of district administrators. He says his group wants more freedom for each school to chart its own course.
“If we’re gonna attract the best talent from our community and our country into education, we need to create the condition that is attractive to talented people,” he says. “And having schools run from afar by central offices is not the kind of condition that’s gonna be attractive to most talented people.”
Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Eugene White says it is not necessary to change his district’s administrative structure because educational quality is improving. He says IPS’s graduation rates are up.
“Almost 19 points over the last five years,” White says. “It’s up to 65 percent now.”
CEEP Education Policy Director Terry Spradlin says many districts have struggled to keep pace with recent changes to the state’s education policy — including new methods for grading school performance, Spradlin suggests it may take some time to assess the new policies’ success before any more changes are made.
“Rather than implement several reforms one year and then give up the next year, let’s get these changes that our focus has school district’s opportunity to work first,” Spradlin says. “We can’t keep changing policies and move the target every year. The school district will never have a chance to meet the target.”
Spradlin says the goal of schools should still be increasing graduation rates and decreasing dropout rates.