Governor Patrick visits Worcester’s Woodland Academy, a state Innovation School

Stand for Children supports parent advocates in Innovation School transformation!

WORCESTER: Governor Patrick visited Woodland Academy this morning to meet with staff and tour the school, which will reopen as an Innovation School this fall.

Jabián Gutiérrez, Central and Western Massachusetts Director with Stand for Children said, “All members of the Woodland Academy community have come together to make changes that are going to benefit kids starting next year. Superintendent Boone, Principal Padilla, teachers, and parents have advocated together to become an Innovation School so that they can exercise increased autonomy and flexibility, which will help them improve outcomes for students.”

Stand for Children member and Woodland Academy parent Diana Renteria is pleased to see Woodland becoming an Innovation School because of the flexibility it will provide with hiring decisions. “Becoming an Innovation School allows the Instructional Leadership Team to conduct an in-depth interview process to choose teachers that are the best fit for the school and the students.”

On May 5, 2011, the Worcester School Committee voted unanimously to approve five Innovation Schools in Worcester next year. In 2010, Stand for Children members supported An Act Relative to the Achievement Gap, which allowed for the creation of Innovation Schools. The schools, which must be authorized by local School Committees, enjoy more autonomy and flexibility than traditional public schools in the areas of curriculum, budget, schedule and calendar, staffing, professional development, and district policies.

Despite increased autonomy, Innovation Schools are held accountable for achieving annual student learning and performance goals. Additionally, Superintendent Boone has outlined ambitious student achievement goals in the Worcester Compact, and the tools afforded by Innovation Schools including increased community partnerships, may help the schools reach those benchmarks. Principal Patricia Padilla commented, “Innovation Schools have united the entire school community in support of high levels of achievement and college and career readiness.”

Jason Williams, Executive Director for Stand for Children said, “We are excited to see plans for Innovations Schools come to fruition. By increasing ownership and flexibility for teachers and school leaders, Innovation Schools will be able to make critical changes that will benefit kids.”

Stand for Children is the state’s grassroots advocacy group committed to public education and closing the achievement gap.

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