Picture of four people sitting around a school cafeteria table talking.

Members of Shelby County’s Local Laboratory of Learning work together during a Dec. 2 meeting. The Kentucky Department of Education has announced the six districts that have been named as the third L3 cohort. Photo by Audrie Lamb, Dec. 2, 2021

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) has named six districts to the third cohort of the Local Laboratories of Learning (L3s), a key part of United We Learn, KDE’s new vision for the future of public education in the Commonwealth.

L3s are the local version of the Kentucky Coalition for Advancing Education (KCAE), a large and diverse group of parents, teachers, school leaders and community members from across the state. In spring 2021, KCAE conducted empathy interviews about what kind of education system Kentuckians want to see. The information from those interviews, the Commissioner’s Virtual Listening Tour and the Keep, Start, Stop survey was used to create a report called “United We Learn: Hearing Kentucky’s Voices on the Future of Education,” which also is available in Spanish.

The heart of the United We Learn vision is to move the conversation about learning, assessment and accountability from the state and federal systems to the local level. L3s are an important way local school districts can partner with community stakeholders. The partnerships are led by a local school district administrator and a community leader and are formed from a diverse group of students, educators, business participants and local leaders that reflect the unique perspectives of their communities.

Districts participating in the third cohort of L3s are:

  • Carter County
  • Floyd County
  • LaRue County
  • Rowan County
  • Warren County
  • Washington County

Cohort 3 districts were selected based on their shared desire to strengthen partnerships within their local communities, co-create authentic learning experiences, empathize with their stakeholders to better understand the needs of their community, and bring together an inclusive local coalition to design innovative models of student success.

The six districts will be introduced to the previous cohorts at the next KCAE meeting on March 29.

Cohort 3 will begin their work April 7 during a virtual L3 orientation session. For the remainder of the 2021-2022 school year, Cohort 3 leaders will observe Cohorts 1 and 2 as they facilitate their local design processes. In the fall, Cohort 3 members will launch their own coalitions and begin the process themselves. They will engage in local empathy interviews, define an educational problem in their communities, brainstorm possible solutions and develop a prototype for testing and implementation.

The goal is for the L3s to scale prototypes across the Commonwealth and enable KDE to facilitate thoughtful, evidence-based transformation in its work to help achieve the United We Learn vision. L3s are supported by KDE, the Center for Innovation in Education and the University of Kentucky’s Next Generation Leadership Network.