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INDIANAPOLIS — On Wednesday, the Indiana State Board of Education (SBOE) laid out five characteristics for the state’s new Indiana Graduates Prepared to Succeed (Indiana GPS) school performance dashboard.

It comes after the 2021 legislative session, where the Indiana General Assembly passed a law, directing the SBOE and Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) to develop a school performance dashboard that promotes transparency and multiple ways of measuring students’ success.

Back in January, the IDOE started their plan of working towards developing the dashboard, with their main goal of listening to parents, teachers, educators, families, community groups, community leaders and more.

“We wanted to know what they were thinking about education today and across the board we received feedback that it might be time to start re-thinking accountability for our schools,” said Holly Lawson, Deputy Director of Communications at the IDOE.

“We know that our students are so much more than just a test score. Our students, in their future and their performance, should be considered over multiple measures,” said Lawson.

The IDOE said Indiana GPS is an opportunity to re-envision how they’re measuring school performance and help focus on working across all grades to prepare students for what’s next, whether that’s employment, enrollment, or enlistment leading to service.

As of 2020, 48.5% of Hoosiers have earned a credential beyond high school. Part of the goal of the new dashboard is to promote success after high school, including increasing that number to at least 60%.

“At last month’s Indiana State Board of Education, our team presented some draft characteristics that we thought were most likely to help students build a lifetime of success,” said Lawson.

Lawson said they’ve gathered extensive feedback from Hoosiers all around the state, including through focus groups, students, families, educators and more. Additionally, they had a form on their website that people could contribute their thoughts on what characteristics they felt should be included on the dashboard.

On Wednesday, the SBOE affirmed those characteristics approved by the board. Those are:

  1. Academic mastery
  2. Career and post-secondary readiness: credentials and experiences
  3. Communication and collaboration
  4. Work ethic
  5. Civic, financial and digital literacy

Parents CBS4 spoke with said they support the plan to implement a dashboard that tracks students’ progress based on more than just academics.

“I think that’s really important and I really appreciate the transparency because I think it’s really important for parents to see what exactly are their children learning and how do they measure up against other children,” said Jasmine Black.

“These skills, they sound like regular life skills, which are really important, so if you want to be able to have a job you can’t just be book smart and be able to do the mathematics,” she added.

Paschal Robinson, who has grandchildren in central Indiana schools said, “It’s very important that kids understand, it’s more than just academics to be successful in this world.”

When CBS4 asked the IDOE if these new metrics on the state’s education dashboard, which is not yet active, would affect the curriculum, Lawson said, “A lot of these items are already being — they are already being taught in a lot of schools.”

“This is the new way of thinking right for accountability for Indiana schools, but it doesn’t mean that these characteristics are new or these concepts are new. A lot of schools are really diving headfirst in digital literacy. For example, computer science is now required and all Indiana schools,” she said.

As part of its next steps, IDOE will ask for public comment and stakeholder input on the indicators and how they will measure each Indiana GPS dashboard characteristic, which the SBOE will consider at its December meeting.

Once decided, those indicators will be the metrics that are measured on Indiana’s new school performance dashboard.

“The fact that they’re, you know, letting people know their opinion is valued and they do want to hear from you, I think that is a good step in the right direction,” said Black.

Lawson said this move to implement a dashboard is not meant to be punitive for schools, meaning one to cause more stress or work, rather, it is meant to be a transparent tool to show progress and areas of success or opportunity in schools.

“I feel like a lot of schools, you know, especially in more urban areas, some aren’t doing as well as in other communities just being able to see in what areas are lacking and how you can improve upon those areas, I think that’s really important,” added Black.

The move to add transparency and increase access to a quick view of students’ progress won’t happen overnight. According to the House Bill 1514, the dashboard must be running no later than 2024.

“We still have some work ahead of us,” said Lawson.