Districts of Innovation Across Texas

(CURRENT AS OF JANUARY 23, 2016)

The following map highlights public school districts that have adopted District of Innovation plans, empowering them with more flexibility and local control. District of Innovation legislation passed in May 2015 and rules became effective September 13, 2016. So far, 65 districts have posted plans on the Texas Education Agency website.

District of Innovation plans vary from school district to school district and can include many different exemptions, the most popular of which include:

CTE Teacher Certificate Exemption

Of the districts that have exempted themselves from some form of teacher certification requirements, a significant majority pointed to the need to find CTE teachers as a motivation for accessing the exemption, often pointing to the desire to hire industry experts.

Other common sources of motivation included the desire to partner more easily with faculty from institutions of higher education for dual credit purposes and allowing certified teachers to teach a course outside his or her area of certification in order to expand course offerings, particularly in small and rural districts.

School Start Date Exemption

Dozens of districts have exempted themselves from the requirement to begin school no earlier than the fourth Monday in August. While some districts specified a start date in their plan, others left this decision to the board on an annual basis. Of those districts that specified, most appear to be moving the start date one week earlier or less.

The most common reasons given include:

  • The desire to prevent summer learning loss, particularly as it relates to at-risk students
  • The need to balance the number of days in the fall and spring semesters
  • The desire to have fall semester examinations prior to Christmas vacations
  • The desire to align school start date with higher education institutions with whom districts partner for dual credit purposes

90% Attendance Requirement for Course Credit Exemption

The most common reasons given by districts for exempting themselves from the requirement that students be in class for at least 90% of days in order to receive course credit were:

  • The desire to refocus award of credit around mastery of the subject-matter rather than seat-time
  • The desire to innovate around the location, time and method of instructional delivery
  • The desire to encourage participation in extra-curricular activities which sometimes require students to miss class
  • The desire to refocus staff resources toward students at risk of not mastering content

Class-Size Exemption

The most common reasons given by districts accessing an exemption from the requirement to maintain class sizes of 22 to 1 in grades kindergarten through 4 were:

  • The desire to prevent a disruption caused by reshuffling classes or the need to seek a waiver if classes grow beyond 22 students after the start of the school year, and
  • The desire to allow districts to take the entirety of the classroom environment, including instructional methodology, student need, and teacher experience and ability into account when creating classrooms.

7-Hour Day Exemption

The most common reason given by districts accessing an exemption from the requirement for a 7-hour school day was the desire to allow for early release or late start on certain days in order to provide collaborative staff planning or professional development.  These districts will either add time on other days or add days in order to ensure that total annual instructional time is not lost.

Appraisal System Exemption

In accessing an exemption from the state teacher or principal evaluation system, districts mostly cited the desire to implement locally-developed systems aligned with district goals and strategic plans as their motivation for accessing this exemption.

Contracts Exemption

Districts accessing an exemption from one or more contract provisions in Chapter 21 of the Texas Education Code reported they were largely designed to:

  • extend the probationary period for experienced teachers who are new to the district to two years rather than the one year allowed under current law;
  • modify the number of contract days to align with the state requirement to track instructional time in minutes rather than days; or
  • place teachers hired on local teaching permits on an at-will basis.

The following map shows all Districts of Innovation and can be sorted, via the dropdown at the top right of the map, according to districts choosing each of those exemptions. The hover boxes include links to the full District of Innovation plans. Raise Your Hand Texas will be updating the map with profiles of innovative practices in districts.

All Districts of Innovation

All-Districts-of-Innovation-3

DOI Profiles

Dripping Springs ISD

Harlingen CISD

Point Isabel ISD

Roscoe ISD