State Shifting Focus Of Quality Reviews Toward School Leaders, Environment

Sep 19, 2018

School reviews in Indiana are changing again this year as part of the state’s renewed approach to school improvement.

Each year the state reviews schools with at least two years of failing letter grades, to look at different aspects of a school’s operations and figure out how they can improve. 

The Indiana Department of Education already changed the process to make it more thorough last year, and this time around the state is scrapping its old 8-point school turnaround rubric for a new framework known as 5Essentials. It’s a model researched and developed out of the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Institute.

The department’s director of school improvement, Robin LeClaire, says each reviewed school will target at least three of the five areas to review, but part of the shift means school leaders will now be a focus no matter what.

“We do believe that research shows effective leadership is one of the key factors in school turnaround,” she says.

Other factors 5Essentials identifies for improving schools: collaborative teachers, involved families, supportive environment and ambitious instruction.

LeClaire says some of the same components from the department’s old turnaround rubric fall into the new 5Essentials model, but the inclusion of “supportive environments” as a review area of its own is a crucial step for teachers and students.

“Because that’s where we’re finding some of our students that are underperforming – for various reasons, those students are not having the support they need in social emotional wellness,” she says.

The state will notify schools on its review list for the year after letter grades are finalized this fall.