Innovation Schools

  • Description
  • Funding History
  • Proposals

The Innovation Schools line item funds competitive grants for school districts planning, implementing, or enhancing Innovation Schools in Massachusetts. Innovation schools are district public schools that have increased flexibility on a number of key areas of school structure and organization. This structure aims to help schools better organize their resources to benefit their students and provide examples of innovative practices that can be adopted more broadly across Massachusetts.

Innovation Schools were authorized through An Act Relative to the Achievement Gap, an education reform law passed in January 2010. Innovation Schools operate with increased autonomy in six areas, curriculum, budget, schedule/calendar, staffing, professional development, and school district policies. Innovation schools can have waivers or exemption from collective bargaining agreements.

Starting in FY 2012, districts creating Innovation Schools received planning support from the federal Race to the Top (RTTT) funds and a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant. With creation of this line item in FY 2014, the state began providing financial support for Innovation Schools, distributed through several grants from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education that focus on different elements of designing and running innovation schools. These elements include planning, implementation, enhancement of existing schools, and fellowships for school leaders to oversee Innovation Schools.

At the height of the program in July 2014, there were 54 Innovation Schools across the state. These schools have alternative features such as longer school days, STEM focus (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), dual language instruction, services tailored for youth at risk of dropping out of high school, and International Baccalaureate curriculum.

Updated January 2016

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