Review Finds a Misguided Guide for Implementing Innovation Schools

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Key New NEPC Review Takeaway: Policymakers who consider using this guide risk adopting a model of school governance that not only fails to resolve educational inequities, but may even perpetuate them.

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The Progressive Policy Institute recently published a “how-to” guide for entities such as charter management companies that seek to develop innovation schools in urban communities.

Carrie Sampson of Arizona State University and Sarah Diem of the University of Missouri reviewed The Third Way: A Guide to Implementing Innovation Schools and found it to lack research-based evidence to support its recommendations.

Unlike charter schools, which often do not have access to district resources (e.g., facilities, transportation), the companies/entities that operate innovation schools are provided with both district resources and the authority to autonomously lead and govern these schools in exchange for improving student performance. The guide argues that equitable educational opportunity is achievable when schools have complete autonomy and strong accountability to increase academic performance and to adopt diverse learning models and expand school choice.

Sampson and Diem explain, however, that many of the report’s long list of 53 recommendations are improbable and overlook the potential disadvantages of innovation schools. These recommendations, they conclude, are highly complicated, largely unexamined, and likely infeasible, especially if a district’s goal is to serve all students and their families equitably.

Find the review, by Carrie Sampson and Sarah Diem, at:
https://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/innovation-schools

Find The Third Way: A Guide to Implementing Innovation Schools, written by Tressa Pankovits and David Osbourne and published by Progressive Policy Institute, at:
https://www.progressivepolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/PPI_ReinventingAmericasSchoolsInnovationGuide.pdf

NEPC Reviews (http://thinktankreview.org) provide the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC Reviews are made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: https://nepc.colorado.edu

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Michelle Renée Valladares

Carrie Sampson
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