Houston Matters

When schools obtain the ‘district of innovation’ status, do they actually innovate?

As HISD potentially seeks that designation, we ask former Spring Branch ISD Superintendent Duncan Klussmann to weigh in.

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On Dec. 14, the HISD Board of Managers is scheduled to vote on the district's plan to seek "district of innovation" status. If the board votes to approve, and the State Board of Education agrees to grant it, the status will allow the district to bypass certain state regulations.

It's something most of the school districts across Texas have done, and now the state's largest district is seeking to follow suit. But why?

What regulations do most school districts use this distinction to avoid? And does it really lead to more innovation in the classroom?

Dr. Duncan Klussmann is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Houston. He formerly served as the Superintendent of Spring Branch ISD.

In the audio above, he tells us too often, districts seek out this status without developing a plan to innovate much of anything.

He says many have sought it primarily to be able to set their school year start dates and to sidestep attendance requirements they find cumbersome to track. But he notes that, whether you like Superintendent Mike Miles’ plans for Houston ISD, there’s no denying the state-appointed leader of the district is trying to innovate.