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Broad Alumni Spotlight: Fumie Ichikawa (TBR 2017-19)

Fumie currently serves as Director of Research and Assessment at Indianapolis Public Schools in Indianapolis, IN. 

Fumie Ichikawa

What is your current organization and role? 

I’ve spent six years working at Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS), and I currently oversee student assessment and research. We support schools and the district to meet state and other requirements before, during, and after testing. And, we are focused on making the assessment experience the best and most supportive for teachers and schools – we know that teachers want to use their time, effort, and passion on teaching, not on testing. We aim to make the testing process as easy and accessible as possible.

Our team of three, which includes two former testing coordinators with years of experience in schools, supports about 60 schools. We are focused on supporting them entirely– no question is too small. 

It’s been an interesting few years in the world of student assessment. What is feeling top of mind for your team right now?

Indianapolis Public Schools is in the process of a district-wide Rebuilding Stronger initiative, with the goal of more equitable access to excellent schools and an excellent curriculum for all. The work of my team is connected with this work because student assessment information forms the foundation, the background, to know how we are post-pandemic. And we are currently showing growth that is as good or better compared to other districts in the state. 

The goal of Rebuilding Stronger is to provide equitable access in many different ways. For example, middle schoolers at all middle schools will be able to access Algebra I. We are also changing the way the district approches school boundaries, and instead making zones. Access to the same school throughout the school year is a big deal because so many of our families are transient. This way, families will have a stable school community for the entire school year. We won’t have a situation where a family moves one block over and suddenly has to change school mid-year. I serve on the planning committee for this work, and my team is the data-producing side that informs decision-making. I am also a district parent, so I bring that lens as well. 

How has the Broad experience shaped your work? 

I didn’t grow up in the United States. I didn’t attend a single day in a U.S. K-12 school, and I’m not a teacher. So there can be questions about why I’m doing this work. But when you boil down my role, it’s all about logistical coordination, compliance maintenance, and readiness to support others. At first, when I moved into my role as The Broad Residency ended, I was hesitant – but a lot of people involved with Broad took on a different role from what they had been doing previously, so that encouraged me to go for it and just jump in.

I was already someone who considered myself a progressive thinker, but Broad helped me approach strategy and planning more analytically. While I’ve never administered a test as a teacher in a classroom, I’ve done a lot of logistical coordination in previous roles. I’ve built teams, which is a big focus of Broad. I’m grateful to my cohort for supporting me and building my confidence. 

What is one thing in your professional work that excites you as you look forward? 

I’m excited about our district reorganization, though it’s scary at the same time. Our Superintendent, Dr. Johnson says, “We can do anything, but we can’t do everything.” That gives us the courage to do what we need to do to achieve our north star: that every student who comes to our door has educational opportunities that lead to a successful life. 

Most of the planning work we’ve been doing is now public, and we will start implementing changes in the 2024-25 school year. I am eager to get started on this implementation phase, to move away from planning about planning. There’s a lot more work before we reach our goals, but I hope this will lead to more equitable choices for families. 

What else has IPS been working on to increase equity for students? 

We’ve also been working to increase language access for non-native English speakers attending our schools. We’ve formally passed a language access policy – I was able to serve on the working group to move this forward. It provides more language access for families in the language they choose. We have 50 or 60 distinct languages spoken in Indianapolis Public Schools, though we are focused on the top five to 10, which include Spanish, Yoruba, French, and Creole. 

I represent the minority in my organization in that I’m not a native speaker of English, but Japanese is not widely spoken. I’m representing those families who might be in the same position. It’s not just a numbers game – we should be able to serve all families within the rich linguistic diversity we have within IPS. The next step is, how do you effectively organize a dedicated team so families get what they need? That is coming soon, within the next year. 

Is there anything else you want to share? 

While I came to my role as someone who was new to K-12 education in the United States, I was already an IPS community member because I’m an IPS parent. So I can say that what’s most exciting is that the current version of IPS is the best version I’ve ever seen, and we are still working on becoming “even better.” We’ve come so far, and that’s exciting to see.