Innovative Quality Schools

RFP for New Schools

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Innovative Quality Schools (IQS), an approved authorizer of chartered schools in Minnesota, is requesting proposals from organizations and individuals from anywhere in the world interested in developing one or more public schools in Minnesota using the chartering process. While IQS is interested in quality proposals of all types where Minnesota children and youth will learn and grow, we will give highest priority to proposals which provide for new and innovative models of school and schooling that redesign public education. Such applications will include a competent longitudinal research design to evaluate the impact of that redesign.

Who is eligible to submit an application?

IQS is soliciting applications from organizations and individuals anywhere in the world who are interested in providing outstanding learning opportunities for Minnesota’s children and youth. One or more persons involved with the development of the proposal must have a valid Minnesota teaching license and this person(s) must be on the founding board of the school.

IQS is specifically interested in applications in the following two categories:

1. Models that are innovative and redesign public education. These applications will propose new models of schools and schooling.

IQS operates under the belief that the chartered sector has the responsibility to lead the research and development dynamic of public education. IQS will give the highest priority to proposals in this category as they will focus on new models of schools and schooling. The applicant must understand that applications in this category are not “continuous improvement” of current models of schools.

IQS defines innovation as processes models that by themselves do not yet have a demonstrated scientific research base. Rather, these schools are designed around a set of compelling hypotheses as to the models’ probability for success. These innovative ideas will be based on a theory (including those founded on personal experiences) or a research base that create a probability of success. An important part of a successful proposal will include a longitudinal process for researching the success of the new model.

Innovation is not restricted to curriculum/instructional designs only. Applications may support redesign in various ways such as: (a) curriculum/instructional program model of the school including new or expanded definitions of what constitutes achievement; (b) governance model of the school; (c) evaluation methodologies including the evaluation of new definitions of achievement; (d) finance models targeted at driving more revenue to instruction as well as models that are more cost-effective; (e) operational aspects of the school such as the professional staffing and leadership design which could include the role of teachers as the leaders of the school; or, (f) other innovative/redesign ideas to be defined by the applicant.

All applications will be required to:

  • Design the school to focus on personalization of each student’s learning;
  • Expand the definition of achievement and ways to measure attainment of 21st century competencies beyond what is measured by test scores;
  • Make significant use of the digital platform; and,
  • Include student and school performance objectives and use a growth model coupled with a value-added design method of data analysis.

Models in this highest priority category might include, but are not intended to be limited, by the following:

  • Teacher designed and led schools that use the “collective teacher autonomy” model of leadership and organization to assure autonomy for the professional teachers. This model should demonstrate that professional teachers will design and lead the school. While this model would likely be applied to the entire school, applicants might want to consider a principal led school with a teacher led department or teacher led grade levels of the school. It will also be helpful for the applicant to review the recently published book titled, Trusting Teachers with School Success: What happens When Teachers Call the Shots authored by Kim Ferris-Berg and Edward Dirkswager;
  • Models with a high degree of student autonomy and self directed learning which include students learning about goal setting and plan development, learning exploration, team building and working together to solve problems. Such schools will have a culture of students as innovators;
  • Models where school is not a place but rather where planned (and unplanned) learning occurs anywhere and is validated by other organizations including the chartered school, accredited schools in other states, in-state as well as out of state post-secondary institutions, AP tests taken independently by students or ACT tests to name a few;
  • Models where the digital platform, especially the low or no cost “free school” accessing the plethora of outstanding learning opportunities available on the digital platform is widely used to improve learning through efficient methods; and,
  • Models that make use of the full year for learning and not be restricted to the agrarian nine-month calendar.

2. Models that have a demonstrated research base

While the mission of IQS is focused on new models of schools as exemplified in #1 above, we do recognize the need to replicate successful models which have a scientific research base. We therefore also will accept such applications. The applicant must understand that applications in this category are of lower priority. These proposals must also be conducting quality research of some aspect of the school as part of its responsibility to contribute to the research.

In this category, IQS has interest in schooling models such as the following.
(Note: These are intended as examples of models of interest to IQS. This list is not intended to be restrictive.)

  • Schools that are organized from pre-k through primary grades, target children who are at risk of not meeting reading (in English) and math targets by the end of 3rd grade and result in all children meeting literacy targets thereby addressing the achievement gap. These schools will likely be developed around the Five Big Ideas of Literacy and will use a whole school “Response to Intervention (RtI)” model which includes a core curriculum (Tier 1) that is/are specifically designed for the demographics of the students likely to attend the school. Such schools might include partnering with Head Start, child care or other pre-k programs and services as its pre-k partner or may directly operate the pre-k program. Key to this model is that pre-k is part of the schools scope and sequence of literacy learning. The pre-k aspect of the school is just as important as is second grade;
  • Models of high schools/post-secondary that redesign the current dual system. This school will be organized to ensure that students complete a minimum of one year of post-secondary education while in high school; however, most students could complete more than one year. These high schools will be designed in cooperation with a two or four year college/university or an accredited trade school. Advanced classes in this school will generate post-secondary credit to avoid the costly duplication of requirements. A strong business partnership is also an encouraged part of the design where students are provided learning opportunities, mentoring and possible employment options. A longitudinal study of the financial impact of this school on both the student/families as well as on the State is a requirement so that the significant cost savings for families as well as the state can be demonstrated;
  • High schools which target small communities in Minnesota which use a “Project-based Learning” model that demonstrates how a small high school can effectively meet the needs of students and yet be financially efficient;
  • World language immersion schools located in rural Minnesota where the need is most significant. If possible, the school should also include a pre-k immersion program partner where multiple world languages are being learned;
  • Schools that rely extensively on the use of digital technology using “smart learning programs” and are based on the “Ten Elements of High Quality Digital Learning;”
  • Schools that serve students with disabilities in Setting 3 in the regular classrooms using a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) model; and,
  • Models that demonstrate how schools can provide an outstanding education while at the same time demonstrate financial efficient operations.

Process for making application to IQS

Because IQS is nearing the maximum number of schools it can authorize, following the timelines below is recommended. It is the responsibility of the applicant to be certain that ample time is available for planning and preparation following approval including accessing start-up funding.

  • IQS will be conducting meetings regarding this Request for Proposals. If you wish, an electronic meeting can be arranged. See the IQS website for details.
  • Letters of Intent are encouraged but not required to be submitted. It is clearly in the best interests of the applicant to submit a letter of intent. Letters of Intent should be submitted by January 31. See the IQS website for a LOI template.

Explanation of chartering in Minnesota

Applicants from outside the United States may not be familiar with chartering public schools in the United States or specifically in Minnesota. We take pride that in 1991, the Minnesota Legislature was the first state in the United States to enact the chartering model with the bill signed into law by Governor Arne Carlson. (See Zero Chance of Passage: The Pioneering Charter School Story authored by Ember Reichgott Junge,  the primary author of the 1991 Minnesota legislation.) As a result, in addition to public schools operated by local district boards of education, public education in Minnesota now also includes schools that are established through the process called “chartering.” By law, chartered schools are a part of Minnesota’s public education system. Refer to Minnesota Statutes section 124D.10 for the law regarding chartering in Minnesota.

Chartered schools must be authorized by organization approved by the Minnesota state commissioner of education. Innovative Quality Schools was approved on December 1, 2010 and is a non-profit organization in Minnesota which has been granted tax exempt status under section 501 (c)(3) by the United States Internal Revenue Service.

For more information, contact IQS.