INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Public Schools will seek a change to state law in the 2016 General Assembly session that would reduce requirements for professionals to become teachers.
District leaders want to void content mastery exams required for admission to the state’s Transition to Teaching college programs -- a path seen as an alternative route for second career teachers.
IPS Superintendent Lewis Ferebee said it makes no sense for, say, a banker to take a math-related exam before even enrolling in a program to learn how to teach math. District leaders and lobbyists will join others groups at the Statehouse to make a case for the change.
“You have to have this proficiency score on the assessment before you even take courses. It is not necessary so we don’t believe that should be in place,” he said adding that too many hopeful second-career teachers are failing the exam.
“What we’ve seen is a lot of people not being successful. What we want is as deep an applicant pool as possible to get teachers into our classrooms,” he said.
The IPS Board heard about this and other draft legislative priorities during its winter retreat Thursday held at Carl Wilde Elementary School on the Farwestside. David Rosenberg, IPS' new operations officer and former deputy chief of staff for Mayor Greg Ballard, presented the agenda.
Other issues the district will lobby lawmakers to support, include:
Expand terms of what type of school can be restarted as an “innovation charter school” Current statute states a “vacant, underutilized, or underenrolled school building” can be turned over to a charter operator through a contract with the district. Now IPS wants to clarify the language to include low-performing neighborhood schools.
Resetting the baseline data for IPS schools that become the charter-like “innovation network schools” This would mean a failing school reconstituted by an outside company would not be held to the A-F grade, ISTEP scores and other academic data earned under the school’s previous management. Basically, the school would reopen with a clean slate and have at least four years to improve academic conditions before the state would seek intervention. IPS will also wants to retroactively reset the data for PLA @103 -- the former Francis Scott Key School 103 that became the first innovation school earlier this year when Phalan Leadership Academy charter operator took over the school.
Require a 30-day notice before a teacher resigns Currently (IC 20-28-7.5-8) there are a few options for how teachers can give notice when they shift from district to district, including one that relates to the start date of the school year. But since districts don’t follow a uniform start date, Ferebee said, it can lead to a messy situation. A simplified rule of a 30-day notice, he said, would provided needed clarity.
Geographic preference for innovation charters IPS wants to ensure students who live within the boundary of a restarted school can be given preference to attend that school if it becomes an “innovation charter” school.
Lowering compulsory school age from seven to five While not apart of the planned discussion, IPS Commissioner Sam Odle asked why age seven remained the compulsory age for students to attend school. As preschool becomes a focus for IPS and the city of Indianapolis, Odel said the board should ensure all children are attending kindergarten, if not preschool.
“Why don’t we put that on our agenda? If we are going to fight for something," he said. "We might as well fight that."
It appeared, everyone agreed.
Though, if IPS does make the push, it could be a futile battle. Last year State Superintedent Glenda Ritz also sought a change in the compulsary age -- no bills were heard on the topic.
Only fifteen states require children to attend kindergarten at age five, and thirty-five states (including Indiana) don’t require kindergarten at all, according to the Education Commission of the States.
House Education Committee Chairman Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, has long opposed lowering the compulsory age.
“If you are going to take advantage of the preschool option, you are going to take advantage of kindergarten,” Behning told WFYI during last General Assembly. “Obviously we don’t want to have the successes we get in preschool and have them walk away. Logically, that is not going to happen anyway.”
IPS leaders will brief Marion County lawmakers on their legislative agenda in an upcoming meeting.