Current Innovation Zones

There are currently four Innovation Zones in Minnesota, described below. You can also go back to the general Innovation Zone information page.

1. New Designs for Education

The New Designs for Education Innovation Zone is comprised of Farmington Area Schools and Spring Lake Park Schools Districts. The Zone began during the 2013-14 academic year and is currently approved through 2017-18. New Design’s leaders believe that technology is key to helping every student reach their full potential, and that learning of the future will take place largely online and will be driven by personalized technology.

To align with this belief, the districts provide a digital learning platform with 24/7 access, as well as more flexibility in the way students and teachers use their time via personalized learning pathways. In addition, the districts have used technology to enrich the interactions between staff and students, and to cultivate a “culture of learning.” Further, the staff from both districts share professional learning and participate in “Innovation by Design” retreats.

2. South-Central Education Consortium

The South-Central Education Consortium is a partnership between Leroy-Ostrander, Southland, Lyle, Grand Meadow, Glenville-Emmons School Districts. These districts are located in southern Minnesota and together serve about 1,500 students. The Consortium’s Innovation Zone status started during the 2013-14 academic year and will last through 2017-18. The Consortium is focused on providing secondary students with the skills that are needed to land jobs that are in high demand with southern Minnesota businesses and vocational technical institutions.

Further, the Consortium has formed partnerships between public schools, technical colleges, and local employers, in an effort to better aligning school curriculum with the demands of the workforce in rural Minnesota. While the Consortium reports that all partners—school districts, businesses, parents, and vocational technical colleges—are supportive, the lack of resources for career counselors makes it difficult to fulfill all of its goals.

3. Minnesota Center for Advanced Professional Studies

Lakeville and Prior Lake-Savage school districts’ Minnesota Center for Advanced Professional Studies (MNCAP) is a high school program with Innovation Zone status that combines education, industry, and community partners in order to immerse all students in profession-based work experiences. Burnsville was supposed to be part of the Zone, but dropped out to focus on other district projects. The 2015-16 academic year was dedicated to planning and implementation.

The Innovation Zone is on-track to have two professional pathways: one in healthcare and medicine, and one in business. Hennepin Technical College and Normandale Community college will provide college credit that is aligned with the course offerings. Student registration began in February 2016.

4. SouthWest Metro Educational Cooperative and Jordan School District’s Career Technical Academy

This Innovation Zone exists to provide staff professional development around integrating core academic skills development into career-focused classes, for students who have fallen behind or who are at-risk of not graduating. The Zone has provided extensive support for staff to develop the skills necessary foster an environment where students’ needs are identified and instruction is personalized. As part of the training process, staff have visited community businesses to examine their culture.

Beyond its role in professional development, the Zone also has an agreement with Normandale Community College to provide college preparatory courses to students on study skills and reading skills for college, as well as several certification options. The 2015-16 academic year was dedicated to planning and implementation.