Legislation would give freedom to good schools

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— State Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, is calling for Indiana to liberate top-performing schools from state regulations. It’ll be Senate Bill 189 in the upcoming session, which starts Monday.

Delph said the bill would give schools the freedom to develop their own curriculum, design their own teacher and staff evaluations, bypass state regulations dealing with their most talented students, create their own plans for career and technical training, and organize classroom time based on instructional minutes as opposed to the current 180-day school year.

“Districts with proven track records could create environments that better fit their students’ academic needs and capabilities,” Delph said. “This would allow these students to reach their fullest potential.”

Schools would still have to follow the laws on special education, contract and salary regulations and other administrative procedures.

To qualify for this new freedom, Delph says, schools would have to see 25 percent of their students graduate with a 3, 4 or 5 score on an Advanced Placement exam or with a technical honors diploma, and also have a graduation rate that tops 90 percent and a composite SAT score higher than the state’s average. Plus, there would be other benchmarks that must be met, including some that the Indiana Department of Education would set.

“Such performance standards would help ensure our students are fully prepared to accomplish their goals,” Delph said. “They would create a system where we’re challenging our schools to focus on methods that maximize student success beyond the classroom. In the long run, our children would be better positioned to be competitive in this global economy.”

Delph credited Jeff Swensson, the Carmel Clay Schools superintendent, and Andy Klein, a member of that district’s school board, with the idea.

“This is the result of collaboration between various school corporations and leading legislators,” Swensson said. “It provides all public schools in Indiana with a data-based academic goal, which, when attained, opens regulatory doors to enhanced achievement levels for our students. Hoosier educators will use this new opportunity to ensure that our children are globally competitive and well prepared for bright futures.”

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