IPS introduces plan for career-based academies

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — From welding to engineering to the military, Indianapolis Public Schools high school students will soon be studying not just their general education but also career paths of their choice.

By 2020, IPS expects every high school student to be exploring career paths, but the plan could start sooner than that.

IPS plans to introduce career-themed academies within IPS high schools for the 2018-2019 school year. The school board will vote on some of the specifics in September.

Under the new plan, school leaders will expect every student to study a career path in some capacity, but some are already exploring careers.

Jonathan Garmany is a welder who graduated from Arsenal Tech High School last year.

“I’m passionate about what I do, and I’m prideful about what I do,” Garmany said. “I can tell people I make tall buildings. I can tell people that if you’ve been in a newly built hospital recently, I probably built some beams in that building.”

He credits his early career success, in part, to an IPS program that allowed him to learn welding in high school. IPS now plans to expand the career-based programs, according to the district’s director of Career and Technical Education, Ben Carter.

“There’s a huge demand in our region for these high-wage, high-demand career opportunities,” Carter said.

Starting in 2018, IPS plans to introduce seven career-themed academies within the high schools.

The seven academies include:

    • Health & Sciences
    • Manufacturing, Engineering & Logistics
    • Teaching, Learning & Leading
    • Construction, Engineering & Design
    • Business & Finance
    • Information Technology
    • Military

“Now we’re finding that we really need to change the mantra from university for all for university to—let’s find the right choice for students, and it’s college and career, versus just college,” Carter said.

Students will work on career-themed projects, and they’ll visit local companies to see hands-on work.

The IPS graduation rate for 2016 was 77 percent, according to IPS. School leaders said the graduation rate is 91 percent for students who study in career-based programs with six or more credits.

“A lot of students aren’t motivated to graduate because they don’t have a true plan for after high school,” Garmany said. “If there were more vocational training in high school, they’d be more motivated because they’d know they’d be getting well-paying jobs right out of high school.”

IPS plans to offer pathways within the academies to help students focus on nursing, physical therapy, teaching, architecture and other careers.

The district’s enrollment in career-based programs jumped from about 1,300 in the 2014-2015 school year to more than 1,800 for the 2016-2017 school year.

School leaders said they formed the seven academy themes based on high demand career fields, student interest and employer and post-secondary input.

District leaders plan to offer additional programs for students who don’t find the right fit within the seven career academies.

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