Pathways to Progress in Educational Equity

In the Metro Denver area and across the state, there are significant and persistent differences in the quality of education students receive and the levels of achievement they attain. These disparities most negatively impact low-income students and students of color.

Rose Community Foundation believes in providing a convening space for disparate groups to work with shared purpose toward common goals in public education. In this spirit, on October 23rd, at Kepner Beacon Middle School in Denver, the Foundation hosted the Pathways of Public Innovation Status: Successes and Challenges of Public Innovation School Models convening. The convening brought together educators, community members, and policymakers for a half-day of shared learning about the most effective uses of a governance vehicle called innovation status, which gives public schools flexibility in how they use time, talent, and treasure to drive better outcomes for students.

Whether it is by sharing specific, school-level innovations or expanding the use of successful governance models, a community of practice has organically emerged among innovation school leaders in the Denver area. Participants heard about how leaders are using innovation status to take schools from bad to good or from good to great. In addition, they had the opportunity to weigh in on the kinds of things they would like to see more of in future research into the effectiveness of these school models.
As the prevalence of innovation schools continues to grow in districts beyond Denver Public Schools, our understanding of the most impactful strategies and models will mature. Discussions about the ways in which program alignment is required to drive both positive student outcomes and financial viability are already taking place. Data on schools that are replicating their models or that are located in Innovation Zones is starting to reveal promising gains. Even though much has yet to be discovered about the potential of innovation schools, it is clear that they are already being used as vehicles to create agency, ownership and opportunity for educators to bring their best selves to the task of serving the students who need them most. As districts look to provide options that give leaders space and make schools more responsive to student, family and community needs, innovation schools ought to be placed prominently on the menu. Learn more by reading the report here.


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