Posted: Fri, 08/01/2014 - 1:01pm Updated: Wed, 09/09/2015 - 4:02pm

Parent Information on Priority and Focus Schools

School accountability is outlined from the United States Department of Education (USED) through Federal law. School accountability was originally established through the 2002 authorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). This law is past due for reauthorization since 2007 and has not been done at the federal level. Due to this fact the USED has provided states with an opportunity to apply for a Flexibility Waiver which grants states waivers from many provisions and requirements of NCLB.

What is the Flexibility Waiver:

  • Indiana submitted its original waiver in November 2011
  • Indiana’s waiver was approved in February 2012
  • Implementation began in the 2012-2013 school year
  • Indiana submitted its Flexibility Waiver in June 2014 and it has been approved for the 2014-2015 School Year.
  • The Flexibility Waiver allows Indiana to have a consolidated accountability system instead of two (School Accountability Grades of A to F versus Adequate Yearly Progress and Public Law 221)
  • The Flexibility Wavier offers more flexibility with more accountability

Identifying of schools in Indiana is based upon the Accountability Model.

Priority Schools - schools identified as highest need

  • Schools that have been labeled as F
  • Schools that have been labeled a D following a year labeled as F

Focus Schools - schools identified as needing support

  • Schools that have been labeled as a D

Once a school is identified based by their accountability grade the school is to complete a Student Achievement Plan. For this the school analyzes achievement data looking to identify and intentionally target student achievement in subgroups. These areas developed are called Priority Areas of Improvement.

For elementary and middle school achievement levels in Math and/or English may consist of:

  • Student proficiency (pass rate)
  • Student Growth

Targeted subgroups may consist of:

  • Bottom 25% of student population
  • Top 75% of student population

For High Schools achievement levels consist of:

  • Student proficiency (pass rate)
  • Student growth
  • Graduation rate
  • College and Career Readiness

Targeted subgroups may consist of:

  • Improvement from 8th to 10th grade
  • Improvement from 10th to 12th grade

After a school develops their Priority Areas of Improvement by intentionally analyzing deep into their achievement and accountability data the school then develops strategies and interventions into the Student Achievement Plan that address eight Turnaround Principles. These are eight areas that need to be effectively implemented and are essential in making progress in the improvement status of lower performing schools.

As the identified school works through this process support, is provided by the Outreach Division of School Improvement. In addition to collaborating with the school Outreach Coordinators, complete monitoring visits to support school improvement efforts, assist with implementation of interventions and the Student Achievement Plan, and provide additional school improvement recommendations based on the eight Turnaround Principles.

  • Priority Schools receive a minimum of two monitoring visits per year by Outreach staff
  • Focus Schools receive a minimum of one monitoring visit per year by Outreach Staff

Exiting the Priority or Focus Schools Status

To exit either of these statuses a school must meet one of the two requirements:

  • Maintain an accountability grade of C or higher for at least two consecutive school years.


  • Earn the status of being a reward school (high performing, high growth with an accountability grade of A) for one year.

In both scenarios schools will continue to implement intervention improvement plans for three years so that they can sustain the improvements and progress that have been made.