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School Innovation Waivers

March 23, 2021
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WRITTEN BY Brittany Whitley

Missouri public schools and districts are subject to federal (e.g., 20 USC Ch. 70) and state (Mo. Rev. Stat. 160-171) education standards and oversight. One approach to increasing school and regional autonomy is the use of education innovation waivers.

Innovation waivers allow states, districts, or schools to apply for specific exemptions from existing laws when doing so would have a positive impact on student and teacher outcomes. Schools that apply for state waivers, sometimes called innovation or autonomous schools, are often considered a middle ground between district public schools and charter schools, due to increased school autonomy, while remaining accountable to a locally elected board.

Senate Bill 265, Senate Bill 285 and House Bill 101 (also House Bill 151, as amended) would allow schools to apply for innovation waivers, approved by the State Board of Education, that would exempt the school from specific regulations in order to improve student college and/or career readiness, or improve pay, recruitment, retention, training, preparation, or professional development for teachers.

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