Monday, January 3, 2011

School innovation zones in West Virginia

I have a feeling we are going to see a lot of proposals this legislative session to allow schools and districts greater flexibility in exchange for better student results (with consequences to follow if those improved outcomes fail to transpire). One example of existing legislation in this vein is West Virginia's 2009 H.B. 109.

The legislation allows for the creation of "School Innovation Zones", which allow teachers and principals "greater flexibility and control to meet the needs of a diverse population of students by removing certain policy, rule, interpretive and statutory constraints." One or more schools, a portion of one or more schools, or a school created by a postsecondary institution can apply to the state board/superintendent for status as a school innovation zone.

The administrative rule governing innovation zones requires applications to "provide evidence of teacher collaboration and shared leadership", "include a component of teacher professional growth" and "include job-embedded professional development that is on-going throughout the initiative". Professional development must "relate to the desired innovation, and support the implementation processes selected for the Innovation Zone."

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