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Five Pilot School Areas of Autonomy,
plus Accountability

1. Staffing: Pilot schools have the freedom to hire and excess their staff in order to create a unified school community. This includes:

  • Deciding on staffing patterns which best meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of students
  • Hiring staff that best fit the needs of the school, regardless of their current status (member of the district or not, although every teacher hired becomes a member of the local teachers union)
  • Excessing staff (into the district pool) that do not fulfill the needs of the school

2. Budget: Pilot schools have a lump sum per pupil budget in which the school has total discretion to spend in the manner that provides the best programs and services to students and their families. This includes:

  • A lump sum per pupil budget, the sum of which is equal to other BPS schools within that grade span
  • The district has moved toward itemizing all central office costs, and allows Pilot schools to choose to purchase identified discretionary district services or to not purchase them and include them in the school’s lump sum per pupil budget

3. Curriculum and Assessment: Pilot schools have the freedom to structure their curriculum and assessment practices to best meet students’ learning needs. While acknowledging that all Pilot schools are expected to administer any state- and district-required test, these schools are given the flexibility to best determine the school-based curriculum and assessment practices that will prepare students for state and district assessments. This includes:

  • Schools are freed from local district curriculum requirements
  • Graduation requirements are set by the school, not by the district, with an emphasis on competency-based, performance-based assessment.

4. Governance and Policies: Pilot schools have the freedom to create their own governance structure that has increased decision making powers over budget approval, principal selection and firing, and programs and policies, while being mindful of state requirements on school councils. This includes:

  • The school’s site council takes on increased governing responsibilities, including the following: principal selection, supervision, and firing, with final approval by the superintendent in all cases; budget approval; and setting of school policies
  • The school has flexibility to be freed from all district policies, and set its own policies that the school community feels will best help students to be successful. This includes policies such as promotion, graduation, attendance, and discipline

5. School Calendar: Pilot schools have the freedom to set longer school days and calendar years for both students and faculty. In particular, research supports a correlation between faculty planning time spent on teaching and learning and increased student achievement. Scheduling which allows for summer and school year faculty planning time contributes to a more unified school community and educational program. This includes:

  • Increasing planning and professional development time for faculty
  • Increasing learning time for students
  • Organizing the school schedule in ways that maximize learning time for students and planning time for faculty (e.g., longer days Monday through Thursday in order to have half-days for students on Fridays, enabling faculty to have a significant planning and professional development block every Friday afternoon).

Accountability: Pilot Schools Network Statement

(Adopted 4/00) The Pilot Schools believe that having in place a strong system of assessing student progress is vital to creating excellent schools in which all students learn and achieve at high levels. We believe in standards that lead to excellent schools, not standardization. We support the development of network-wide competencies and assessments that, while providing common information on how schools are doing, also allow for and encourage uniqueness in approaches to instruction and assessment among schools. Ultimately, good assessment systems should open doors for all students rather than shut them, and help students graduate with a range of options. The Pilot Schools Network assessment system is built upon the following principles. Assessment should encompass the following:

  • Provide multiple ways of assessing student competency in meaningful ways, rather than relying on one single method
  • Eliminate secrecy, so that all students, families, and the public understand the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind that students are expected to know and be able to do, how they will be expected to demonstrate this knowledge, and what constitutes high quality work
  • Be developed and used by those working most closely with students, while also involving families and the community
  • Provide information to students, families, and the community on how students are progressing toward meeting goals
  • Be embedded in curriculum and instruction that engages students in work that has a public purpose, that inspires students to become producers and contributors, and that assists them to become active participants in our democratic communities
  • Help students become independent, self-reliant, and thoughtful learners, and gain a sense that they are able to effect and improve the world around them
  • Provide opportunities for students to be successful, to learn from mistakes and challenges, and to build persistence and resiliency as learners
  • Help students become reflective learners and self-assessors who monitor their own growth, build on their strengths, and develop their skills
  • Promote reflective practice in teachers, leading to improved instruction
  • Reflect the best research on instruction and assessment

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