Overview of the i-Zone (Innovation Zone)
The i-Zone is a special subset of MCS schools that have applied to receive additional funding through a School Improvement Grant (SIG) to implement one of four state – approved turnaround models in order to improve student achievement. There are sixty-nine (69) schools in MCS that are considered Priority Schools. These schools are defined as schools that fall in the bottom 5% of schools in the state.
The seven (7) i-Zone schools are Priority schools, but they will remain under MCS management and will receive additional funding to implement new operational and academic changes in order to improve student achievement. All i-Zone schools will be required to adopt one of four turnaround models outlined by the state. Decisions on which model each school will adopt was determined by the school leadership. Each model involves the review of current staff performance (administrative and faculty) to ensure the schools are staffed with teachers able to significantly raise student achievement. Teachers and principals will be required to reapply to remain at the schools.
- Turnaround Model - This model can apply to a school with a newly recruited principal leader who selects new staff, seeks resources for extended days, uses his/her financial autonomy to create financial incentives for more flexible working conditions, and adopts a new instructional program. Restart- This model can apply to a school that reopens as a charter school incubated by the state's partnership with a non-profit charter school investment fund.
- Restart - This model can apply to a school that reopens as a charter school incubated by the state’s partnership with a non-profit charter school investment fund.
- Closure - This model occurs when an LEA closes a school and enrolls the students who attended that school in other schools in the LEA that are higher achieving. These other schools should be within reasonable proximity to the closed school and may include, but are not limited to, charter schools or new schools for which achievement data are not yet available.
- Transformation - This model can apply to a school with a new principal who uses Tennessee's new evaluation system to retain highly effective teachers, implements more rigorous courses such as Advanced Placement or STEM-themed partnerships, or works with a state-designated non-profit partner for ongoing support.