Education
7:00 am
Sun February 9, 2014

What 3 New Kentucky Districts of Innovation Plan To Do With Schools

Three new Kentucky school districts have received District of Innovation status—meaning they can get waivers for a handful of state education department regulations.

Credit Hanna-Barbera

The Kentucky Board of Education has approved Owensboro Independent, Owsley County and Trigg County school districts, all of which were rejected in the first group.

Kentucky school districts submit proposals to the state education department, and this District of Innovation proposal process gives us an idea of what sorts of things public school educators would like to do, if they could.

Now, these three districts will work with the Kentucky education department to figure out how far they can take their plans.

Among the waivers approved by the board, here's what caught our eye:

Owsley County Schools requested 11 waivers from state regulations. To see the full application, click here.

Among them, students meeting the graduation and college-and-career readiness requirements could stay in the Owsley County school system for grades "13" and "14" to get a couple years extra  help from teachers, while taking dual credit or vocational courses beyond their senior year.

The district wants to "expand our dual credit program through post-secondary partnerships," the application reads. Through the waiver, students who complete the graduation requirements early "would then have the option of returning to (high school) to enroll in dual credit or vocational courses beyond their senior year."

Additional state funding is not provided. 

Trigg County Schools requested eight waivers and received about half (some are partially approved). To see the full application, click here.

Like many at districts, Trigg officials are thinking of other ways to measure student achievement that doesn't involve standardized tests. While Kentucky's legislature would have to pass a law allowing alternatives to the state's standardized assessments, the state did grant Trigg the option to asses students through portfolios and projects and then compare those to the state's mandatory assessments.

Trigg's proposal initially asked for this: "Eventually phasing out student performance on EOC assessments as a measure of achievement and PLAN to ACT as a measure of growth, our model would calculate student achievement and growth from classroom and school-level assessments (housed in CIITS), performance-based assessments, student portfolios, and capstone projects."

Trigg was also approved to give students a spot with voting rights on the School-Based Decision Council, which helps make important school-level policy decisions for individual Kentucky public schools.

Owensboro Independent Schools requested six waivers and received four. To see the full application, click here

Under its proposal, Owensboro Independent has the potential to create a new "stand-alone, career technical institute that offers both high school and college credits and that is eligible for all the funding available separately to area technology centers, high schools, and schools offering dual enrollment courses."

This will allow Owensboro to partner with Owensboro Career and Technical College and other school districts to serve public school students who are ready to earn college credit. 

There will be no additional state funds that will be appropriated for creating this school, unless lawmakers decide to fund it.