States across the country are embracing innovation in education. In recent years, there has been an increase in district pilots that re-envision student learning by promoting competency-based pathways. States have supported these pilots, or “Innovation Zones,” in the hopes that lessons learned can inform their broader vision and potentially lead to expanding pilots statewide. This enthusiasm for innovation has only grown as shifts in federal policy have opened the door for additional flexibility and continued progress.
As states pursue innovation zones, they should carefully consider their implementation strategy. What principles should guide efforts as states create innovation zones? What are the guardrails states must put in place in creating their own innovation zones? This brief explores the state’s role in creating and supporting district innovation zones and discusses key design considerations.