The New Indiana GPS Dashboard…Where Do We Find the Time?

By Ryan Langferman, IPLI Mentor, Principal at Milan High School

Following the passage of the House Enrolled Act 1514 in 2021, the IDOE has rolled out a somewhat intimidating list of accountability criteria that will be used to measure school performance from the 22-23 school year and beyond. I use the word “intimidating” because the list includes characteristics that are not easily measured, such as college and career readiness, communication and collaboration, work ethic, and limitless financial and digital literacy. Not only are these characteristics challenging to measure (as demonstrated by the delay from the IDOE in identifying indicators and metrics), schools also struggle to find the time, place, and personnel to weave these items into an already packed curriculum. These characteristics do not fit neatly into a subject area with an established curriculum in many schools. Difficulties aside, I believe these accountability characteristics are valuable skills necessary for preparing learners for lifelong success and are a step in the right direction in evaluating our schools beyond a test score.

I want to take this opportunity to share what we plan to implement at Milan High School for the 2022-23 school year in an attempt to meet and exceed the skill set necessary for our students to be successful after graduation while also meeting the new IDOE accountability indicators.

First, I need to give you some insight into our current bell schedule and structure. We have carved out a 30-minute block that meets four days per week in our school day. This period is known as “Graduation Prep” (GP) and has been in existence for several years. GP is also known as Homeroom, Activity Period, or SRT in many of your schools. Our students are assigned a GP teacher during their first year, and they remain with that teacher for all four years of high school. We hope that our students create a special bond with their GP teacher, and our administrative team considers our GP teachers as our first level of defense for SEL and counseling needs. We encourage our GP teachers to check in on students daily and notify our counseling department of any “red flags” that need attention. Our goal is that every student at Milan High School graduates with a plan for life after high school, and GP is a big part of making that happen. 

Our GP time is used for grade checks, homework help, CCR curriculum (via Naviance), and activity meetings. In recent months (and partly due to new accountability measures), we have realized that our GP time can be more productive and valuable for our students. Our team has spent the spring semester collecting a list of resources and building a curriculum to implement next school year during our GP time to meet these needs. Some of the new topics we plan to integrate into our GP classrooms next year by grade level include the following:

Grades 9 and 10

  • Digital Citizenship
  • PSAT Prep
  • Mentoring/Character Education
  • Email Etiquette and Organization
  • Google Suite Skills and Organization
  • Study Skills
  • SEL Skills
  • College Visits
  • Workplace Tours
  • Alumni Speakers

Grade 11 and 12

  • Financial Literacy
  • SAT Prep
  • Mentoring/Character Education
  • College Search
  • FAFSA Completion
  • ASVAB Prep
  • Resume and Interview Skills
  • Paying for College
  • Voter Registration
  • SEL Skills
  • Alumni Speakers

You might be asking, “This sounds great in theory, but how do you intend to implement all of these topics?” We have created a lesson plan template that counselors, teachers, bankers, IT professionals, etc., are using to develop their lesson plans for their specific topic. The lesson plans are then presented to teachers during our PLC time so that everyone has a complete understanding of the lesson. GP teachers will then give the lesson to the students. We have used this method a few times this spring, and our staff has been very receptive to the idea. They appreciate that the lesson has been created for them with easy access to necessary resources. They also feel confident in presenting the lesson, as they have had time to preview the lesson and ask questions before giving it to students. In some cases, after the lesson has been presented, we then ask the expert or community member to come in and talk to the students to reinforce the lesson that was just given. I should also mention that organizations and individuals such as the National Guard, law enforcement officials, business leaders, religious leaders, and alumni have all been receptive to serving a role as a mentor or character development assistant for students or groups of students based on identified needs from our guidance department.

It remains to be seen if our strategy will work, but I am excited about this curriculum’s potential for our students. Community members are excited to be involved and believe these are worthwhile topics often overlooked because they are not always a part of classroom standards or curriculum. Moving forward, our team is considering offering credits for completing the work during GP that may be necessary to help motivate students if they are hesitant to complete work without receiving a grade. If you would like to hear more about what we have established up to this point, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Enjoy your spring break! You’ve earned it!