Indiana Charter Board Encourages Dramatically Different Models

by | May 8, 2013

As Public Impact focuses on its Opportunity Culture initiative—reaching more students with excellent teachers, making sustainably higher pay a reality, and providing job-embedded development—we’ve noted a few examples of charter school networks using redesigned jobs to make this possible.

Rocketship Education, Carpe Diem, and KIPP Empower have been on the cutting edge of using new school models to “extend the reach” of great teachers. Newer CMOs building reach into their models include the members of the Opportunity Culture Charter School Network: Foundations College Prep in Chicago, Ingenuity Prep in Washington, D.C., Touchstone Education in Newark, N.J., and Venture Academy in Minneapolis.

But why haven’t we seen more innovators? The Indiana Charter School Board (ICSB) asks this question in its recent request for applications, developed with support from Public Impact, inviting new models with strong potential to accelerate student success. 

The board requests that applicants consider dramatically different school designs, including those that use “staff roles, technology, compensation structures, and/or other aspects of school design and/or implementation to enable the school to reach more students with excellent teaching” in a financially sustainable way.

To explain what it means by innovative designs, the board provides applicants with specific key elements and examples on its website. Public Impact’s Joe Ableidinger and Grace Han conducted a webinar spotlighting the list of innovation resources available to applicants, which includes our Opportunity Culture website and our models of innovative teacher staffing and compensation.

Applicants must still meet all the board’s usual quality standards to gain approval, but the ICSB also developed a specialized rubric to evaluate the quality of the applications’ innovative components and their likelihood of success.

The request for new models builds on the ICSB’s record of issuing charters to innovative schools. For example, one of the board’s early charters established Carpe Diem Meridian, a school on the cutting edge both in the use of blended learning and in teacher roles that enable great teachers to expand their impact. As Carpe Diem teacher Josh Woodward recently explained in Education Week, “I am able to take on many leadership roles and earn a higher salary while also staying in the classroom and ensuring that my students receive the best possible math education.”

Indiana schools to open in the future include one run by Rocketship Education, whose existing schools use blended learning and subject specialization to enable great teachers to reach two to four times the typical number of students, for more pay and without increasing class sizes.

The board’s call for innovative applications is just a start: The ICSB will accept another round of applications in August 2013 and plans to continue eliciting innovative proposals that meet high standards.

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