So much confusion exists over “innovation” that the state Education Department avoids the term.
For example, the state asks charter-school applicants to explain how their design elements are “unique and distinct” instead of using the language in state law that instructs applicants to explain what “innovative methods” they intend to use.
In fact, the only time the word innovation appears in the 66-page guidelines for charter-school applicants is in quoting state law.
Even the state’s final review documents of charter school proposals, which the state education board relies on in voting on recommendations, rarely mentions innovation. The words innovation or innovative appeared in only a handful of those documents over the last five years, according to a Globe analysis of more than two dozen proposals.
Cliff Chuang, a senior associate education commissioner who oversees the charter school office, said the phrase “unique and distinct” is more effective in getting responses that show what is innovative.