The Innovation Schools initiative, a signature component of An Act Relative to the Achievement Gap signed into law by Governor Patrick in January 2010, provides educators and other stakeholders across the state with the opportunity to create new in-district and autonomous schools that can implement creative and inventive strategies, increase student achievement, and reduce achievement gaps while keeping school funding within districts. These unique schools operate with increased autonomy and flexibility in six key areas with the goal of establishing the school conditions that lead to improved teaching and learning. The six key areas are as follows:
- School schedule and calendar;
- Staffing (including waivers from or exemptions to collective bargaining agreements);
- Professional development; and
- School district policies
Innovation schools can operate as new schools, conversion schools, or academies (school- within-a-school) models. Innovation schools be established by (i) parents; (ii) teachers; (iii) parent-teacher organizations; (iv) principals; (v) superintendents; (vi) school committees; (vii) teacher unions; (viii) colleges and universities; (ix) non-profit community-based organizations; (x) non-profit business or corporate entities; (xi) non-profit charter school operators; (xii) non-profit management organizations; (xiii) educational collaboratives; (xiv) consortia of these groups; and (xv) non-profit entities authorized by the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Private and parochial schools are not eligible to operate an innovation school.