Innovation and Flexibility

About Innovation and Flexibility

Many states across the country have recognized the need for flexibility from state statutes in order to foster innovatation in their educational systems and improve student acheivement.

For decades, state education agencies and legislatures created regulations to ensure the process that schools and systems used to educated children was sufficient. But, as the educational system changed and made schools more accountable for their performance, well-intended statutes became cumbersome. In short, the “system” changed to focus on making sure educators meet goals, and they need more freedom to meet these goals.

Some states allow systems to develop “innovation plans” or “flexibility plans.” These plans allow educators at the school and system levels to decide how best to teach students. If an old but cumbersome state regulation stands in the way of getting results, the state may waive it, within reason.

States that have passed legislation allowing “flexibility” or “innovation” plans include Georgia, Kentucky, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, among others.
Local Control School Flexibility Act of 2013 (HB84, SB54)

In 2013, the Local Control School Flexibility Act (HB84) and its Senate companion (SB54), would allow local systems to enter into “flexibility contracts” with the State Board of Education after completing a rigorous approval process. For more on HB84, see below.

History of Flexibility Bills in Alabama

In 2012, two version of flexibility bills were introduced during the Legislative sessions.

  • In 2012, SB365 was introduced, and it was very similar to 2013’s HB84.
  • Also in 2012, the text of SB365 was included in the Education Options Act (HB650), the majority of which was meant to allow and regulate public charter schools in Alabama. Because HB650 included language allowing for traditional school flexibility, it would have given traditional schools similar flexibility to better compete with any charter schools that could have been created under that portion of the bill.