Combine two of my favorite people and of course I have to talk about it. Paul Peterson, who takes education data to push us towards real world solutions, wrote an blogpost in Education Next about Open High School of Utah featuring Robyn Bagley, tireless advocate for education change. As always he raises some great points. In this case we have a promising innovation in education that is hampered by archaic rules. Open high school has 125 ninth graders and already the demand has exceeded what they can provide based on reduced funding formulas and artificial caps.
The biggest problem is that the state says it has to be all or none. You can't just take one or two courses with Open High which is sad. Utah needs to take a look at Florida and allow the funding to follow the student PER CLASS. So if someone needs a better algebra course, that student can spend the Algebra period taken a much more customized curriculum from Open High.
Open High School of Utah has a HUGE competitive advantage over all other schools. Besides its energetic staff (and they had many more applicants who wanted to teach there then open positions) they can customize and continually update the curriculum to meet the needs of their students. They will not depend on a State Board to tell them what text they will receive for the next 5 years based on the interest of huge educatio publishers. The teachers will decide what content to bring in based on meeting state standards and student needs. They still have to meet state standard, but teachers and staff will decide how best to get there.
Can't wait to see how this unfolds in the next couple of years.