Another school district will be jumping into the innovation school market. Decatur township recently announced that it will be turning its high-ability program into an innovation school.
Innovation schools are essentially public schools that are allowed to operate in a semi-autonomous manner with their own boards but remain part of the district and maintain some of the benefits that come with being a district school as opposed to a stand-alone charter. One of the big selling points for operators is they have more say over curriculum, staffing, and other key operational decisions. They have been around since 2016, but until now, innovation schools have been almost the sole dominion of Indianapolis Public Schools.
KIPP, Riverside, Phalen, and Purdue Polytechnic are well-known examples of other innovation schools, but they are all IPS connected innovation schools.
The Decatur High Ability Academy will be Marion County’s first innovation school outside of Indianapolis Public Schools. Decatur is making this change with the support of The Mind Trust. Unlike many of the IPS innovation schools, The Decatur High Ability Academy will not be run by a charter operator. Additionally, the school will be open to students outside of Decatur’s traditional boundaries.
According to the district, the school will serve grades 3-6 and the current plan is to enroll up to 200 students. It is a school specializing in high ability students so admission will be based on areas like test scores and teacher recommendations. Students who attend the school will be learning an advanced curriculum and have access to state-of-the-art technology like virtual reality, and 3D printers.
Innovation network schools have come under criticism in the past. It is worth noting in this case the school district was already operating a high ability program the innovation school is a relaunch and expansion of that program.