The Innovation Schools Act, passed in 2008, provides a pathway for schools and districts to develop innovative practices, better meet the needs of individual students and allow more autonomy to make decisions at the school-level. The stated purpose of the Act is to provide additional flexibility to schools and districts for the purpose of meeting student needs. The Act allows a public school or group of public schools to submit an innovation plan to its local board of education that is designed to increase student outcomes and strategically align the school’s resources with their approach to teaching and learning. Once approved, school district boards of education must submit the innovation plans and waiver requests to the Colorado State Board of Education for approval.
Valdez first became an Innovation School in 2010. Our Innovation Status has to be renewed every 3 years by a minimum of 66% approval vote by teachers. We are currently in the process of renewal for 2016.
Click here for a link to our current Innovation Plan.
Parent and Community talking points about Valdez Innovation status:
- Montessori Model: Innovation status allows us to continue our Montessori program and to continue the necessary adjustments to curricula, instruction, and assessment that are already in place to ensure a smooth transition from a Montessori to a non-Montessori environment.
- Dual Language Immersion Programming: Innovation status allows us to continue our dual-language model, which ensures all students become bi-literate and bilingual, while becoming proficient in academic content. Our dual-language model requires us to have flexibility in curricula, instructional strategies, assessments, and operational variables.
- Oral Language: Innovation status allows teachers the flexibility to pace, condense, or extend lessons to allow for the time needed and depth achieved with this rigorous level of academic talk.
- Special Classes- Arts, Technology, and Music: Innovation status allows us to supplement our program with enriching activities in: fine arts, technology, music, and other disciplines. We are able to better leverage resources and partnerships to provide enriching experiences for our students.
- Literacy: Valdez teachers need the flexibility to compact, extend, adjust, and deviate from the District defined curriculum to meet student needs through backwards design. To be truly data driven, we must be able to respond to the student needs and honor that data driven decisions (time and intensity variables) may supersede fidelity to the District pacing and planning.
- Mathematics: Valdez teachers need the flexibility to compact, pace, extend, adjust, and deviate from District-mandated curricula based on student needs. To be truly data driven, we must be able to respond to the student needs and honor that data driven decisions may supersede fidelity to the District core curriculum. This requires using curricula that matches our values around student-centered learning.
- Science and Social Studies: Innovation status allows us to adapt and supplement our Social Studies and Science curricula in order to plan and implement engaging, project-based and thematic curricular units whenever possible. If at some point in the future Valdez determines that a different Social Studies or Science curricula are needed to best meet the needs of our students, we will pursue this with the district pursuant to the established processes and procedures for requesting approval of non-district adopted curricula.
- Ongoing assessment and data cycles: With innovation status the school leadership team has the liberty to create assessment tools and use the resulting data to positively impact student learning. Innovation allows for flexibility using our time to create a year-long assessment plan. An essential assessment unique to our dual language program is ongoing second language assessment that checks for mastery of concepts as well as the students’ progression of oral language. If at any point in the future, Valdez determines that there is a need to create or select a formal assessment tool, we will work collaboratively with the Research and Assessment Department in that process as appropriate.
- Schedule and Calendar: Innovation status allows us to design and implement a master schedule, a teacher work schedule, and an annual calendar that will best serve our students, families and teachers. We believe that teachers need individual and collaborative planning and reflection time in order to be most effective. We work collaboratively with our families to determine the best schedule and calendar to meet the needs of our students.
- School Culture and PBIS: Innovation status allows us to tailor our professional development to the unique needs of our population. We implement a much greater level of breadth and depth to our PBIS systems and training than typical schools. In addition, Innovation status is necessary to implement some of the systems that require flexible scheduling.
- Family Engagement: Innovation status allows us to continue to develop our parent and community support as well as to leverage our efforts in order to garner additional resources for our school.