For Immediate Release - June 27, 2012

GOVERNOR PATRICK LAUNCHES INNOVATION SCHOOL NETWORK TO PROMOTE GROWTH AND SHARE BEST PRACTICES

Innovation School model gives educators tools to prepare all students for success in the classroom and beyond

Innovation Schools Network
Governor Patrick is joined by Secretary Reville (right) to launch the Innovation School Network. (Photo: Jeremiah Robinson / Governor's Office) View more photos.

BOSTON – Wednesday, June 27, 2012 – Governor Deval Patrick today joined state education officials and Innovation School practitioners from across the state to launch the Innovation School Network. The new network will give educators and administrators planning and operating Innovation Schools a space to meet one another, provide ongoing planning and implementation support and share best practices as the Innovation School initiative matures. 

Innovation Schools are a signature component of the Achievement Gap Act Governor Patrick signed in 2010. The schools provide educators and a wide range of community stakeholders the opportunity to create in-district schools that operate with greater autonomy and flexibility while keeping school funding within districts. This flexibility in curriculum, staffing, budget, schedule/calendar, professional development and district policies allows educators in Innovation Schools to better meet students and give them the resources and tools they need to succeed both in and out of the classroom. 

“Great things can happen when local school communities have the flexibility to be creative in their approach to helping all students achieve at high levels,” said Governor Patrick. “I applaud this new network of pioneers for their hard work in helping us close achievement gaps through innovation in education and look forward to seeing their success replicated in more communities across the Commonwealth.”

“The Innovation School Network will help ensure the continued development of excellent new Innovation Schools statewide so that all students have access to the instruction and support we know they need to be successful students and lifelong learners,” said Education Secretary Paul Reville.

Critical to the success of the Innovation School model is stakeholder collaboration and community partnership. During Wednesday’s event, attendees heard from several representatives of key stakeholder groups including Paul Toner, President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association; Paul Grogan, President of the Boston Foundation; and Bina Venkataraman, Director of Global Policy Initiatives at the Broad Institute on the rewards and challenges of pioneering the Innovation School model. 

“It is invigorating to see Massachusetts leading the charge in encouraging new models for K-12 education within school districts,” said Bina Venkataraman. “There is great potential to learn how creative approaches to teaching science and technology can better inspire the next generation of inventors and innovators in the Commonwealth.”

Attendees also participated in breakout sessions on Innovation School governance structures, superintendent-specific issues and lessons learned from autonomous schools. During the sessions, practitioners from schools across the state heard success stories from those involved in establishing the state’s first Innovation School, the Paul Revere Innovation School, and field questions from educators and administrators still in the early stages of developing Innovation Schools.

There are currently 28 approved Innovation Schools across the Commonwealth and another 27 in the planning stages. Innovation Schools are approved by local school committees through a collaborative process that invites community and school stakeholders to engage in solving their communities particular issues by taking advantage of the flexibilities and autonomies afforded to Innovation Schools. Innovation Schools are being established at varying grade levels and many are organized around specific themes like Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), dual language instruction, International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, alternative education opportunities, virtual platforms and wraparound services. Many of the schools also operate with novel schedules that will significantly increase instructional time for students and professional learning opportunities for educators.

The Patrick-Murray Administration has awarded over $1.2 million in planning and implementation grants for Innovation Schools, and will award the next round of implementation grants, designed to help schools fully utilize their innovation plans, this summer. Funding for Innovation School planning and implementation grants is made available as part of a total of $2 million in support from the Commonwealth’s successful Race to the Top proposal and additional support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

For more information on Innovation Schools visit www.mass.gov/edu/innovationschools.

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