HISTORY OF PILOT SCHOOLSPilot Schools were established in February 2007 when a Memorandum of Understanding was ratified by LAUSD and UTLA to create and implement ten small, autonomous Belmont Pilot Schools within LAUSD Local District 4 with a specific focus on creating new, innovative schools to relieve overcrowding at Belmont High School. Over the following 2 years, the cap of 10 schools was reached with 9 in Local District 4 and 1 in Local District 6.
In 2009, with the advent of Public School Choice, teachers lobbied UTLA to expand the number of Pilot Schools. A second MOU was ratified by LAUSD and UTLA for an additional 20 Pilot Schools district-wide. By the fall of 2011, the total number of Pilots district-wide was 32.
The most recent stabilization and empowerment agreement between LAUSD and UTLA (December 2011) lifts the cap on Pilot schools, allowing any school in the district to adopt this model via a proposal process. As of July 2021 there are a total 40 pilot schools district-wide.
WHAT IS A PILOT SCHOOL?In the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Pilot Schools are a network of public schools that have autonomy over budget, staffing , governance, curriculum & assessment, and the school calendar. These autonomies allow them to operate with greater flexibility in order to best meet their students’ needs.
Pilot Schools were created to be models of educational innovation and to serve as research and development sites for effective urban public schools.
Pilot Schools are:
- Innovative: Pilot schools embody innovative educational reforms that lead to improved student outcomes and model best practices of 21st century education.
- Vision and Mission-Driven: Each school has a unifying vision and mission that is reflected in all school practices and structures, including curriculum, assessment, policies, schedule, professional development, and family engagement.
- Small: Optimal school size is between 400 to 500 students. Small schools enable teachers, students, and families to build strong relationships in a safe environment.
- Research-Based: Pilot schools embody sound educational philosophies, practices, programs, curricula, pedagogy, and assessments.
- Equitable: Patterns of achievement across race/ethnicity, gender, language, disabilities and socioeconomic status are examined so that schools become inclusive communities that ensure all students reach high levels of achievement and readiness for college and career.
- High expectations are explicit for every member of the school community, including preparing students to meet A-G curriculum requirements.
- A rigorous core academic curriculum that is provided to all students.
- Student learning is purposeful and provides differentiated and real world pathways to understanding. Students use creative problem solving and actively apply their knowledge.
- Students are empowered to be responsible for their learning, thereby increasing their engagement and intrinsic motivation.
- Pilot schools use multiple forms of assessment, including exhibitions and portfolios, in addition to standardized tests. Students are expected to demonstrate their understanding of key competencies and their relevance to the world.
- Partners with Parents and Community: Pilot Schools work closely with parents and with the community in which they are located. Parents are engaged as partners in their children's academic achievement and the community provides resources for schools and students.
- Professional Learning Communities: Pilot schools place an emphasis on shared decision-making and responsibility for student achievement. In order to sustain a supportive culture, teachers work in teams and are provided with ample time for professional learning.
- Self-Governed and Led: The people closest to the students make school and policy decisions. Governing boards have increased decision-making power over the school's vision, budget approval, principal selection and evaluation, and policies.
HOW TO BECOME A PILOT SCHOOLSchools interested in becoming a Pilot School can submit proposals through the 2016-2017 Request for Proposal (RFP) process for Pilot Schools released by the Local Options Oversight Committee (LOOC).
Below are a summary of the steps a school should undertake to begin the process:
ESTABLISHMENT OF PILOT SCHOOLS (Review the full language in the LA Pilot Schools Memorandum of Understanding, page 4)
- Schedule an orientation and/or informational meeting with the Office of School Choice to be provided for school staff.
- Conduct straw poll to gauge staff interest in the Pilot School model.
- Develop and write Pilot School proposal in response to the RFP guidelines.
- Staff vote after reviewing proposal - approval will be evidenced if a minimum of 67% of all Unit (UTLA) members who work 50% or more in the school vote to adopt Pilot status.
- Submit final proposal to LOOC with documentation of Steps 1 and 4.
- Submitted proposals are reviewed by the Pilot Schools Steering Committee.
- Approved schools receive written notification from the Pilot Schools Steering Committee.
- The Pilot Schools Steering Committee recommends approved proposals to the LAUSD Board of Education for approval.
A Pilot School may be created by the following means:
- A new, start-up Pilot school
- An existing regular LAUSD school or high school Small Learning Community (SLC) may convert to become a Pilot School if a minimum of 67% of all Unit members who work 50% or more in the school adopt Pilot status.
- An existing charter school can decide to give up its charter and apply through the RFP process.
Establishment of Pilot Schools through the RFP process:
- The District shall provide an orientation and/or informational meeting(s) for UTLA members interested in Pilot schools.
- The Pilot Schools Steering Committee (PSSC) will release each year a timeline for the Pilot Schools Request for Proposal (RFP) process.
- Completed proposals will be reviewed by the PSSC, and thereafter determine which proposals are approved.
- No Pilot School shall be established without the approval of the PSSC and the LAUSD School Board.
- The Board of Education must authorize the formation of a new school through the CDS code approval process.
- The Chapter Chair and school site administrator from each school being relieved by a new start-up Pilot school will confirm:
- An orientation and/or informational meeting(s) was held
- A school vote to adopt Pilot status was taken