Four Indianapolis high schools face uncertain futures

Four Indianapolis high schools with uncertain futures will get a hint of their possible fates this week when officials meet with parents and community members.

Indianapolis Public Schools officials have scheduled meetings at John Marshall, Broad Ripple, George Washington and Northwest high schools in a signal that the schools are facing major changes.

The district plans to eliminate the combined middle and high schools that currently serve thousands of students, including the four combined middle-high schools where the district will host meetings.

As IPS leaders move forward, they have three likely options for each school: they could turn them into traditional high schools serving grades 9-12; they could convert them to middle schools; or they could close them.

Officials plan to shuffle grade configurations as a way of improving student performance for middle schoolers, who have some of the lowest test scores in the district. Some research suggests 6th-8th graders in K-8 schools do better on tests than their peers in traditional middle schools. But researcher Brian Carolan told Chalkbeat in June that reconfiguring grades is an expensive process that isn’t a “magic bullet” for improving student outcomes.

When the district pulls middle school students from combined high schools, some of the schools will probably be converted to dedicated middle schools to serve those students. But the four schools that will host meetings could also be closed.

IPS has way more room in its high schools than it needs, with more than two seats for every student, and Superintendent Ferebee confirmed last month that some district high schools may be closed.

The school board is expected to make a decision about grade configuration at its August meeting.

The district is holding 6 p.m. meetings at each high school this week. Northwest's meeting took place Monday night. The district will meet Tuesday at George Washington, Wednesday at John Marshall and Thursday at Broad Ripple.

Chalkbeat Indiana is a not-for-profit news site covering educational change in public schools.
 

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