Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Innovation Zone?

A designation by the West Virginia Board of Education that provides schools with the support and flexibility to collaboratively implement innovation to enhance student learning, which may currently be restrained by policy or code. In addition, The act also encourages schools to focus on strategies that address dropout prevention and recovery. An Innovation Zone designation means that a school or schools have been awarded a grant to address student learning or dropout prevention.

What is the purpose of Innovation Zones?

The intent and purpose is to:

  • improve educational performance;
  • provide principals and teachers greater flexibility by removing certain policy, rule, interpretive and statutory constraints;
  • provide a testing ground for innovative educational programs at the school level;
  • provide information regarding the effects of those innovations;
  • document educational strategies that enhance student success;
  • and increase the accountability of public schools for student achievement as measured by the state assessment and local assessments.

What are the major provisions of the School InnovationZone Act?

The major provisions of the act:

  • Intended to provide principals and teachers with flexibility from the constraints of certain statutes, policies and rules in order to serve as testing grounds for innovative reform strategies that enhance student success and increase accountability.
  • Authorizes the state Board of Education to establish a process by which a school and other organizations may be designated as School Innovation Zone.
  • Stipulates that the state Board of Education include certain provisions in the application, approval and implementation process of Innovation Zones.
  • Stipulates that the state Board of Education notify applicants of its decision within 60 days of receiving the application and consider certain factors and standards in order to approve the application.
  • Stipulates that applications include descriptions of the programs, policies or initiatives that the zone intends to implement and an explanation of policy, statute or interpretation exceptions desired.
  • Requires that no exception be granted to assessment programs administered by the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE), provisions of NCLB or other federal law, nor exception from WV Code 18A-2-7, 18A-4-7a, 18A-4-7b, 18A-4-8, 18A-5-8b. However, exceptions may include a proposal to require that a candidate for a teaching vacancy in an innovation school possess qualifications over and above those stipulated in statute if approved in a county-wide school staff election process.

Who is eligible to apply?FAQs

Applications are welcomed from educators who have a shared vision of how to better prepare students for learning and living in a global society. This group of educators must be willing to work together over time to identify, plan, and implement innovative and educationally sound ideas that contribute to the achievement and well-being of the students they serve. This could include:

  • School and Groups of Schools
    • entire faculty of a school working to implement a school-wide strategy
    • feeder schools or schools of the same programmatic levels working within a county or across counties to implement a strategy
    • a school district with less than a 90% graduation rate (Dropout Prevention only)
  • Teacher Team or Partnership of Teams (Not applicable to Dropout Prevention)
    • partnership of teacher teams across schools (subject-specific departments, subject, grade level, or issue-specific teams willing to implement a common approach)
    • teacher teams within a school (department, grade-level, or cross-role team with a common focus)
  • Higher education institutions (Not applicable to Dropout Prevention)
    • Establish a new Innovation Zone school under jurisdiction of the state institution of higher education, which must be approved by the county board of the school district in which the new school is located.
    • Partner with public education on application submitted by school(s)

Is there a priority order for awarding grants to eligible organizations seeking designation as an Innovation Zone?

    WV Code 18-5B-3 indicates that the state board shall consider applicants for designation in the following order:

    • A school and groups of schools
    • A group of schools seeking designation for the same subdivision or department of the schools
    • A school seeking designation of a subdivision or department.

What topics can be addressed?

The State Legislature has created Innovation Zones as a way for schools to implement promising innovations that can be supported by research. They could address a range of topics from how to restructure time, configure staff, and/or modify school-wide programs to more specific ideas that may relate to a paticular grade or content level.

Innovation may mean expanding upon an idea that has been awarded the IZ grant in the past or trying something that has never been implemented in WV schools before. Continue to explore and remember that ...

the possibilities for innovation are endless …..

May I view past applications of schools that were designated as IZs?

Yes, and the budget plans are available with the applications.

  • View the 2010-2011 applications that were awarded the IZ grant here.
  • View the 2009-2010 applications that were awarded the IZ grant here.
Applications that are duplications of previous applications are viewed as less innovative than those that propose new ways of addressing student learning.

How much money may be granted?

  • The West Virginia Board of Education will grant awards for Innovation Zones on a pro-rata basis from $5,000 to $50,000 to enhance student learning..
  • The Local School Dropout Prevention and Recovery Innovation Zone has been allocated $2.2 million by the State Legislature as funds available for this competitive grant.

What happens if the plan is approved?

      • Grants will be awarded based on available funds.
      • All exceptions to county and state board rules, policies and interpretations, subject to the limitations of 18-5B-4(a)(2)(B), listed within the application are not granted until the full plan is approved.
      • If an innovation zone application requires exemption from state law the plan may be granted approval upon the condition that the WV State Legislature acts to grant exemption to a statute.

What must happen to receive exemption from state statute?

      • The State Board of Education must submit the applicant’s application with the request for an exception to a statute, along with supporting reasons, to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability (LOCEA).
      • The commission shall review the plan and exemption request and make a recommendation to the Legislature regarding the exception requested.