Education
2:55 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Review Team Recommends Most Kentucky School 'Districts of Innovation' Proposals Be Denied

Only four of 16 Kentucky school districts that applied to become Districts of Innovation will be recommended for approval at Wednesday's Kentucky Board of Education meeting, but officials will not yet say which districts will be denied.

School of the future, according to the popular children's show The Jetsons.
Credit Hanna-Barbera

Under new state law, school districts can apply to become a District of Innovation, which allows them to be exempt from certain Kentucky Department of Education regulations and certain local board policy to improve student outcomes.

The law was seen as a compromise to charter school legislation.

Over the last several weeks, KDE's Districts of Innovation Review Team—consisting of staff from KDE, Education Professional Standards Board, the Council for Postsecondary Education and the Appalachian Regional Comprehensive Center—scored the 16 submissions using a rubric to measure the quality of the applications, but KDE officials confirm 12 of those applications will be denied.

Jefferson County Public Schools submitted ideas that range from flexibility with the school day, to creating individual Schools of Innovation with community input. The district would begin implementation next fall, according to the application.

JCPS officials say they aren’t sure whether JCPS is one of the four districts being approved and state officials will remain tight lipped until the board receives its recommendations Wednesday.

According to an agenda document, "the most noticeable variations [between the applications] occurred in four areas: Innovative Design, Student Service Plan, Timeline, and Outcomes for Learning."

Districts that are being recommended for approval had "clear and concise alignment of goals, objectives and students outcomes to waiver requests," and the proposed timelines provided, "strong monitoring/implementation plans. The plan can visibly be seen from year 1 of implementation to year 5 and beyond."

Districts that are not being recommended included plans that do "not appropriately reflect innovation (for example, technology does not automatically mean innovation)" and the "baselines and goals are unclear or unfocused."

WFPL will follow up with this story Wednesday.