Does innovation status boost schools’ test scores? New Colorado report finds “mixed bag” of results.

Does innovation status boost schools’ test scores? New Colorado report finds

This story was originally published by Chalkbeat. Sign up for their newsletters at For at least the third time in the 15 years since Colorado lawmakers created them, innovation schools have gotten middling marks in a new report meant to measure whether freeing the schools from bureaucracy boosts student test scores. The report by the Keystone Policy Center found that students who attend innovation schools did no better on state math and literacy tests last spring — and, in many cases, performed worse — than students who attend traditional district-run schools and independent charter schools. The report did find some bright spots, such as students of color performing better on some tests and higher scores in Denver’s innovation zones, which have been controversial. State policymakers had hoped innovation would be an effective strategy for turning around low-performing schools. That hasn’t necessarily turned out to be the case, as indicated by the report’s title: “A Decidedly Mixed Bag.” Van Schoales, senior policy director at the Keystone Policy Center, said there’s nothing particularly new or different about the report’s conclusion. “What’s different is that this started in 2008, so we’re now 15 years later … and it’s sort of like a, ‘Meh,’” Schoales said in an interview. On the spectrum of school autonomy, Colorado’s innovation schools fall between district-run schools, which are the least autonomous, and charter schools, which are the most. Under state law, innovation schools can waive certain rules to do things such as extend the school day or opt out of granting teachers Colorado’s version of tenure. The idea is that giving schools more autonomy allows them the flexibility to better meet students’ needs. Type of Story: News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.