Although Kentucky is one of just nine states that do not offer charter schools, a new 2012 law does allow school districts the freedom to operate similarly to the autonomous public schools.
“We want schools of innovation not to look like anything we’ve ever seen before, at least in public schools in Kentucky,” said David Cook, the Kentucky Department of Education’s director of innovation.
School districts can ask the state Department of Education to designate them a “District of Innovation,” which would free them from any state policy except civil rights regulations, minimum graduation requirements, and academic standards. Districts could restructure around competency-based learning—which awards credit according to mastery rather than time logged—extending the school day and year, and learning outside school walls.
The program will begin in 2013-2014. At least 70 percent of the district’s teachers must approve its proposal to the state. Districts could apply to operate all their schools under the new system, or designate a few.
State education officials said they expect five to ten of the state’s 174 districts to apply in the program’s first year.
Image by Dean Shareski.