Districts Rising

Indianapolis Public Schools: From the Bottom Up

Client: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Just five years ago, Indianapolis Public Schools was languishing in the bottom rankings of the state. But now more students are passing state tests; taking and passing Advanced Placement exams; and graduating high school with plans to go to college, join the military or get a job earning a living wage. The district has put itself on the path to improvement by letting go of its traditional top-down approach and pushing more decision-making to local schools—a bottom-up approach that empowers principals and teachers. In this brief, we look at how teacher leaders in the district have been helping shape landmark new collective bargaining agreements and strengthening implementation of the district’s new teacher evaluation, feedback and support system.

This brief is part of the Districts Rising series. Each brief in the series tells the story of a school district and its efforts to raise student achievement and prepare students for college and career. The briefs describe the strategies that districts have employed to raise academic standards for students, improve educator effectiveness, and engage stakeholders in the design and implementation of new policies. Adam Kernan-Schloss and Kathy Ames from KSA Plus Communications were the lead authors of this brief.

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