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Applying for State Innovation Waivers to Support Long-Term Transformation

“Most ESSA-related measures aren’t pushing the envelope, but they could.” (Karen Perry)

Overview

Challenge: How to support school redesign while meeting state accountability standards.

Action Steps

Some districts have received Innovation Waivers from their state, enabling their schools to pursue new, innovative strategies while being provided more autonomy and an ability to waive some statutory requirements. This strategy promotes a longer-term horizon and offers districts breathing room for some adaptive experimentation.

Karen Perry, coordinator of personalized learning in Henry County, GA, explains that in Georgia, while the state does not waive things like test scores or attendance and graduation rates, there are other things inside those categories (such as maximum class size, seat time requirements, or teacher certification requirements) that can be waived more easily. Perry notes that by defining more targeted measures of success they are better able to meet the needs of the district and the strategy they are working to enact.

Colorado’s Department of Education also offers a useful guide for innovative schools seeking waivers.