IPS implements language arts program, new textbooks

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - It’s been since the 2012-2013 school year when Indianapolis Public Schools updated their English and Language Arts curriculum and leaders stress it’s long overdue.

This week, the district moved forward with plans to adopt new textbooks. According to IPS, “Research shows one of the best ways to dramatically improve student learning and engagement is to give teachers high-quality instructional materials and the support they need to use those resources.”

You’ll find Ms. Amanda Bryant teaching 7th graders on the west side at Northwest Middle School. As an English and Language Arts teacher, Bryant will soon undergo training for the new curriculum and textbook adoption.

“I want to bring up our reading scores, I want our kids to become better readers and that they want to read,” said Bryant, “Reading changes everything, it’s inspired my kids to go to college, become teachers, do different things in life just because by reading and becoming the characters of a book.”

IPS promises that the new textbooks will be high quality and students will be able to see themselves represented in the stories. 7th grader, Karma Siddons is on board.

“They’re updated, they’re new stories, there are new things to do,” said Siddons, “It’s just going to be better. The old textbooks they’re well, old.”

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Jessica Dunn is the Interim Curriculum and Instruction Officer. She told us this decision puts Indianapolis Public Schools on par with other Central Indiana districts, as IPS is a year behind most of other districts.  IPS took advice from neighboring townships like Perry and Pike, even speaking with schools in Cincinnati and Virginia to come up with the list of recommended publishers.

Information provided by Indianapolis Public Schools

“We had pilot schools that used a variety of the vendors to see which one made the most sense, we got feedback from them. We then had the vendors come out and present to principals,” Dunn explained.

The textbook adoption will cost IPS $4 million, which does impact families. Each student will pay $40 to $50 more for their textbook rental. However, the district wants to stress they’re here to help.

“They can always go to their school and ask the front desk for the free and reduced lunch form and then that allows us to ensure that if they qualify, that there will be no fee,” said Dunn.

Nearly 17,000 students or 66% of our students qualify for free and reduced services. As districts across the state switch from traditional textbooks to tablets, that’s not in the plans for the district just yet for many reasons.

“We know that if families don’t have access to online, if they don’t have internet at their home then they would not necessarily be able to sit down and read with their child,” said Dunn, “Regardless of socioeconomic status or internet access that they have access to the high quality resource that IPS will be providing.”

Teachers and staff will be undergoing training for several months ahead of the transition to the new textbooks and materials. The textbook adoption and curriculum will be implemented for the 2020-2021 school year.

Click here to visit IPS’s website to learn more about their curriculum.

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