The implementation of 2009’s Senate Bill 1, the work of which is now called Unbridled Learning, is becoming a reality.  

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday

As is the case when undertaking major change or a series of changes, day-to-day challenges and pressures can become our focus and the larger picture or goals can become less clear. That is understandable given the amount of work involved with Unbridled Learning and the ongoing financial challenges faced by our state.

But it also is good to stop and remember the bigger picture, and how all of the components of this new system work together to help us reach our goal. In the case of Unbridled Learning, here are seven components that interact to produce results. With Unbridled Learning, we are trying to address all seven components. They include:

1.) Expectations – The Kentucky General Assembly was very clear about expectations for college/career readiness through the passage of Senate Bill 1. We have worked closely with higher education, military, and industry to clearly define expectations for high school graduates, and through the Common Core Standards, we have defined expectations to the kindergarten level.

2.) Clearly defined measures and information systems – Through our work with higher education, military and industry, we have defined the measures of college and career readiness. Through our MUNIS, Infinite Campus, Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System (CIITS) and ASSIST planning software, we have developed an integrated information system that will provide timely and accurate data on how well students, teachers, principals, schools, districts and the state are meeting expectations.

3.) Leadership – Through the regional networks, we have worked to develop leadership in every district to guide the implementation of Unbridled Learning.

4.) Strategic goals and action plans – The Kentucky Board of Education has established specific and measureable goals to meet the expectations of Senate Bill 1. Through the ASSIST software, every district and school will have specific and measureable goals tied to college/career readiness, proficiency rates, growth, gaps and graduation. Schools and districts will be able to track the deployment of specific strategies through the ASSIST software.

5.) Processes – Key process are being developed around the accountability system and the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver. We are working on redefining the learning process through our innovation work. We are working with chief financial officers across Kentucky districts to identify several key support processes where we can improve productivity and efficiency.

6.) Resources – Through the Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning (TELL) Kentucky survey, we are working to improve working conditions in schools and districts. We are working to define teacher and principal effectiveness. We are working to overhaul our approach to professional development. We are developing an Innovation Foundation to identify additional sources of revenue.

7.) Results – Through the Unbridled Learning accountability model, we will track short-term and long-term results from the state level to the student level.

While it often seems like we are asking schools and districts to “do one more thing,” there is a clear plan for how all of the components create a much improved system of learning in Kentucky that helps us reach the vision of every child proficient and college/career-ready. In order to reach this vision, all the components of the system must be clearly defined and aligned.

Over the coming months, KDE will be sharing more communication about “ how it all fits together.” As the results from our first year of implementing Common Core Standards, new assessments and the new accountability system start to come in, it will be critical that we look at the parts of the system that are not aligned or missing. We know Unbridled Learning will most certainly continue to develop as we do this. But rest assured, while additional adjustments may occur, our goal to prepare all Kentucky students for college and career will remain the same.