You’ve heard the term “pilot schools” in numerous headlines in the education section of various newspapers and newsfeeds, but what are pilot schools exactly?

Pilot schools are similar yet different from charter schools. Like charter schools, pilot schools have more freedom over budgets, the school calendar, and staffing than public schools. Charter schools must report to a board of trustees and the Department of Education.

Student with laptop in library

Image: Enokson via Flickr

Pilot schools have “autonomy over budget, staffing, governance, curriculum/assessment, and the school calendar to provide increased flexibility to organize schools and staffing to best meet students’ needs” yet are still a part of the school district. The idea is that granting these schools greater freedom allows them to have more room for innovation. Teachers can explore new ways of teaching and can alter their practices according to the needs of their students; this can have significant benefits for schools with low-income students who are falling behind in academic achievement.

By allowing pilot schools to have more control over their resources it is hoped that they can create a more effective, innovative education curriculum and improve student’s achievement. One of the great things about pilot schools is that they are highly personalized. These schools place great importance on teacher’s attendance to their student’s individual needs.

It is great to see that schools are being granted more autonomy. For one, America’s education system is in need of improvement, and change cannot come about without great ideas, and ideas that are acted upon. Now individual pilot schools are acting like “guinea pigs” when it comes to education reform in America. If we find that these schools that are finding improvement in student’s academic achievement through increased innovation, perhaps this greater freedom should be granted to all schools in America.