Giving Compass' Take:

• Matt Barnum explains what the portfolio model of school management entails and why advocates are supporting this approach. 

• What would this look like in your community? Is this a viable and equitable model of education reform? 

• Learn about funding for school innovations

Imagine a very traditional school district structure. Schools are built where families live, and students are assigned to schools largely based on their addresses. Individual schools rarely open and close, absent big population swings. The district’s administration and a school board create rules for things like hiring and curriculum.

The portfolio model changes many elements of that system.

The idea, as envisioned by advocates, works like this:

  • Students and families choose from a variety of schools that usually include both district and charter schools.
  • Schools have significant autonomy over things like what and how they teach and whom they hire.
  • Schools are held accountable for their students’ performance, measured at least partially through test scores, by the district or another central entity. Successful schools are encouraged to grow or “replicate.” Unsuccessful schools are forced to close or restructure. Sometimes, struggling district schools are turned over to charter school operators or nonprofit organizations.
  • The district, or another entity, coordinates common systems for essentials like enrollment.

It amounts to treating all schools more like charter schools — allowing parents to choose, giving schools autonomy, and putting schools on a performance contract (or “charter”).

Portfolio advocates see this as a better way of managing schools, one that empowers teachers and principals, helps ensure schools are effectively serving students, and gives families more options.

Read the full article about the portfolio model by Matt Barnum at Chalkbeat.