After the announcement of winners today, the U.S. Department of Education released the scores and comments of Round 1 applicants. The scoring sheets indicate that if the Department had awarded grants to the top 5 states, the other three winners would have been Georgia, Florida, and Illinois, in that order.

Out of curiosity, I opened West Virginia’s comments to see what the reviewers had to say about their “innovation schools” law, which is the closest law to final version of SB2293.  The reviewers gave WV an average of 5 points for their law.

Here are their comments:

Reviewer #1: 4 points out of 40

“Applicant reports that the state does not have a charter law and does not provide evidence that it intends to push aggressively for this solution. Thus, it has received 0/32 for Romanettes i-iv, as those aspects of the rubric speak directly to charter school laws and policies. (v) Applicant does have school innovation zones, as of summer 2009, and 19 schools or school consortia have been awarded innovation zone status. Not all autonomous schools policies actually result in schools’ having significant control over essential functions at the school level as defined in this notice, and applicant does not make it sufficiently clear that the state’s version of innovation zones in fact result in authentic school-based autonomy. Indeed, the evidence provided in the application does not make a compelling case that this law is resulting in schools that have strong autonomy over essential local school functions, such as: defining their instructional models and associated curriculum; selecting and replacing staff; and controlling their budgets.”

Reviewer #2: 4 points out of 40

“There is no charter school law. The innovation zones do not emulate charter conditions according to evidence presented. Innovation zones provide LEA flexibility and university help, but are not conceptually similar to charters which provide autonomous gdverning boards and parent choice of schools. Application needs more detail on why local flexibility will result in large scale local change. Current autonomous schools have not used the state budget flexibility.”

Reviewer #3: 5 points out of 40

“(i), (ii), (iii), (iv) WV has no charter school law. (0) (v) WV has innovation zones that they believe are comparable to the flexibility and innovations allowed in charter schools in other states. However, all the flexibility elements typically available to charter schools are not available in the innovation zones. (5)”

Reviewer #4: 4 points out of 40

“West Virginia has no charter school law. West Virginia has a bill authorizing school innovative zones, enabling LEAs to operate with waivers however it is not clear if LEAs can operate innovative, autonomous public schools.”

Reviewer #5: 8 points out of 40

“i., ii., iii, iv.: The state has no charter schools, and it has no charter school laws. [0/8 for each romanette] v. The state passed a law in June 2009 enabling LEAs to operate schools meeting these criteria. Forty five (45) schools applied for authorization, and 19 schools have been authorized. [8/8]”


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