Bennet, Schatz Introduce Bill to Spur Innovation in Schools

Competitive Grants Will Enable Educators to Develop, Expand on Proven Methods to Improve Student Achievement

Washington, DC - Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) yesterday introduced the Investing in Innovation Act to help educators develop and expand upon innovative practices that are improving student achievement, graduation rates, and college enrollment.

"Every day, our teachers and school leaders face unique challenges educating our kids and preparing them for college and their future careers," Bennet said. "We can help provide the preconditions for success by providing incentives for educators on the ground to apply their own creative thinking to address our most persistent education problems. Federal innovation dollars are spurring creative strategies to improve literacy instruction for middle school students, including English language learners in Denver Public Schools, helping establish a STEM Academy at Skyline High School in St. Vrain Valley School District, and supporting innovative efforts by the Northwest Colorado BOCES to provide dynamic and effective professional development for rural teachers. This bill will help teachers, schools, and other community organizations expand upon ideas like these and help even more students."

"Some of the most innovative ideas on improving education come from local educators who know their community's educational needs better than anyone," Schatz said. "Our legislation will fund competitive grants to give educators the resources to develop and scale-up creative programs that address the unique education challenges in all of our communities. One program supported by innovation funding, Success for All, serves low-income children in nearly a dozen schools across Hawai‘i. Teachers in schools like Makawao Elementary School on Maui have applied innovative approaches to literacy to boost reading test scores well above the state average."

The bill authorizes a competitive grant program to empower school districts, educational service agencies, and community organizations to identify and expand evidence-based, innovative educational strategies to serve schools in their communities.

The Investing in Innovation Act promotes flexibility and "out-of-the-box" ideas by prioritizing grant recipients who:

  • Improve the teaching and learning of STEM subjects;
  • Serve schools in rural communities;
  • Improve early learning outcomes;
  • Support college access and success;
  • Support family and community engagement; and
  • Address the unique learning needs of students with disabilities or English learners.

The bill also includes a 25 percent rural set-aside to help smaller communities compete for funding so they can invest in ideas unique to rural communities.

# # #