Ark. Code Ann. § 6-15-2801 states that a School of Innovation (SOI) is a school that “transforms teaching and learning,” and defines innovation as “a new or creative alternative to the existing instructional and administrative practices.” SOI-designated schools are engaged in practices that are intended to improve academic performance and learning for all students. Arkansas school administrators who aspire to lead a School of Innovation are encouraged to design new and creative alternatives to the existing instructional and administrative practices in their schools.
The first step to becoming a School of Innovation is the submission of an Intent to Apply Form to the ADE Office of Educational Options. This generally occurs in October and is followed up with a required technical assistance meeting to review the application process and requirements in the law. Technical assistance continues throughout the application process with on-site support and trainings by the Office of Innovation for Education at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. The final application is reviewed by a team of educators and submitted to the Commissioner of Education.
Designation as a School of Innovation occurs after successful implementation has been demonstrated. A school is recommended for designation as a School of Innovation based on an ADE team review of that implementation. The Commissioner of Education makes the final approval for designation as an Arkansas School of Innovation, and School of Innovation status is granted for a four-year period.