Tuesday, June 04, 2013

KDE Team Recommending Most 'Districts of Innovation' Proposals Be Denied

This from WFPL:
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 and officials will not yet say which districts will be denied.

School of the future, according to the popular children's show The Jetsons.
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. According to the application, the district would begin implementation next fall.

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."


Skip Kifer said...

I was struck with how this article reflects a major side effect of the Kentucky reform: the locus of power moved from schools and districts to KDE.

I was also struck with the jargon used to justify soon to be announced decisions.

Richard Day said...


I think you are reading this development correctly.

The commissioner is using Senate Bill 1 to drive the program. He has taken a "strong commissioner" kind of attitude.

Depending on how one wishes to spin it, the commissioner is either

1) simply implementing the law, as is his responsibility, or

2) using SB 1 as a blunt weapon to force districts to bend to his will....or words to that effect.

District leaders that embrace the "reform" get rewarded with trips funded by vendors and foundations, accolades, and other goodies.

But we are talking state system, national curriculum, national assessment, perhaps.

School councils have the authority to go their own way but any local school that varies too much from the path will get reigned back in unless they have the insulation of very high test scores.

Anonymous said...

I am thinking #2

Schools and their districts could probably implement any of these "innovations" if it was a viable and prioritized intervention. Seems like the carrot is getting to dodge some state regs - by that logic, what does it seem to say about compatibility of state oversight and control via regs and "innovation". In the end we are suppose to giving all kids the best education possible, not cherry picking.

It is also very interesting that in this conversation about innovation, that we talk about schools, districts and KDE but what about universities? THey would seem to be an important partner in all of this but I don't see them anywhere here.

Anonymous said...

There are about 1230 public schools in the state. Of those, 16 applied for innovation and 4 apparently are probably going to be accepted.

Do we really think that 4 schools out of 1230 are going to result in broad based change in student instruction in this state? Sounds to me like schools are just trying to keep their heads above water of current state initiatives and expectations - expecting them to be innovative in an environment of which doesn't support current needs is just frustrating.

Wendy Wheeler-Mullins said...

As one whose child is supposed to be protected by federal laws and state education regulations for students with disabilities, I am quite fearful when the state department of education and the state board of education are going to exempt some schools and " . . . allows them (schools) to be exempt from certain Kentucky Department of Education regulations and certain local board policy to improve student outcomes." State and federal accountability are about all some marginalized groups (like students with disabilities) have. Based on past bad behavior, I tend not to trust schools to do the right thing when the rules are lifted or waived.

Anonymous said...

I looked at the application for a while and then thought the better of it. Apparently, that was playing the right odds. I know I would be P.O.ed after putting in all that hoop jumping only to be denied.

Sounds like if you don't learn the dance steps of KDE mindset and priorities, you don't get asked to the innovation prom. From what I read, qualitative applicants need not apply.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the powers that be would know innovative if it hit them on the head. It at times seems that entire culture and perspective of KDE et al. is as much about standarization based upon nationalized standards and assessements as it is about doubting intent and capacity of practitioners throughout the state's schools. I am somewhat suprised that they are even offering the opportunity for schools to do anything outside their operational parameters. Not sure if it indicates the lack of creativity within their own organization or a desire to control and claim individual school creativity.