National & local legislators

child coloring with markers

Students and families in Indiana and Indianapolis have benefitted from bi-partisan support on key education issues.

Key legislation:

2001: Indiana’s charter school law was enacted. The first public charter schools in Indianapolis opened in the fall of 2001.

2014: Indiana passed legislation allowing the governing board of Indianapolis Public Schools to authorize Innovation Network Schools within the district. The first Innovation Network School was opened in the fall of 2015.

Being able to have a choice in schooling is important to families. Parents don’t want to feel that they have to send their child to one particular school because it is in the district. Parents have power because they have a say in where their child goes to school.

Delma Suber, Indianapolis parent

Improving School Transportation in Indiana

School Transportation impacts the lives of more than 650,000 Hoosier students. While our state has made strides to provide a wide variety of education options to families, transportation policy and systems need to catch up. Families should be empowered to share their feedback on new school transportation systems and be given the opportunity to access transportation at the school that works best for them.

Likewise, educators should have the opportunity to choose vehicles and partnerships that allow them to best deliver high-quality transportation to families. Learn more about this issue in our policy paper, Protecting School Choice: How Flexibility in Transportation Can Improve Access and Efficiency. The paper provides an expenditure analysis, in-depth overview of the current challenges, and detailed policy and operational recommendations.

Impact on students and families

In the 2020-2021 school year, 51.2% of students within Indianapolis Public Schools’ (IPS) boundaries attended an independent public charter or IPS Innovation Network School.

  • 13,489 (30.1%) students attended an independent public charter school
  • 9,430 (21.1%) students attended an IPS Innovation Network School
  • 84% of students enrolled in autonomous schools during 2020-2021 identify as students of color

Learn more about enrollment at public schools in Indianapolis from EmpowerED Families report on enrollment, Our Schools, Our Children, Our Choice.

Closing proficiency gaps

In a 2019 study, researchers from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes found that:

  • Students in Indianapolis charter schools made learning gains equivalent to 77 days of additional learning in math and 100 days of additional learning in math
  • Students in Innovation Network Schools made learning gains equivalent to 53 days of additional learning in math and 89 days of additional learning in math
  • Black students in autonomous schools made learning gains equivalent to 65 days of additional learning in math and 83 days of additional learning in math
  • Latino students in autonomous schools made learning gains equivalent to 100 days of additional learning in math and 94 days of additional learning in math

Black students in Indianapolis charter and IPS Innovation Network Schools passed both the English and math 2018-2019 ILEARN exams at double the rate of their traditional public school peers. Moreover, Black students attending independent charter schools in Indianapolis passed at almost three times the rate of their traditional school peers.

Latino students in independent charter schools passed both the English and math exams at almost double the rate of their traditional public school peers.

On the 2018-19 ISTEP+ exam, high school students attending autonomous schools were over four times more likely to be proficient than their peers in traditional school.

While unacceptable proficiency gaps continue to exist for Black and Latino students relative to their white peers, we continue to see that students of color who attend autonomous schools are much more likely to demonstrate proficiency.

Learn more about the results public charter schools and Innovation Network Schools have had for Indianapolis students.