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United We Learn

United We Learn

Published: 4/5/2022 3:21 PM

​​Students and Teachers in a classroom

What is United We Learn?

United We Learn is our vision for the future of public education in Kentucky. This vision builds around three central themes: creating a more vibrant experience for every student, encouraging innovation in our schools – especially when it comes to assessment, and creating a bold new future for Kentucky’s schools through collaboration with our communities. 


Building on the strength and success of KDE initiatives to date, education stakeholders are working on ways to enrich student experiences in our schools and improve learning outcomes for all students. Our ideas will be bold and forward-thinking, motivated by our desire to give all children the equitable and engaging learning opportunities they need for success.  

United We Learn means everyone in our Commonwealth – educators, families, and community and business leaders – working together to support our public schools in bringing about deep and authentic learning experiences for our students. 


Why is United We Learn so Important?

Students across Kentucky are growing up in a globally interconnected world; a world that is accelerating in competitiveness and possibility. We know that while every student has the potential for success, learning opportunities and outcomes have been uneven. While many students and school districts are thriving, others are struggling – especially those in our traditionally underserved communities and groups. 

Kentucky’s children will only realize their full potential if we can ensure high-quality learning experiences that meet the needs of all students. 


How Will We Realize Our Vision?

Opportunities to engage communities and create deep and meaningful learning experiences for students abound in our Commonwealth. We call upon every district, school and community to aspire to the vision people from across the state imagined in United We Learn and help us bring about a bold new era of education in Kentucky. ​

How Does the Vision Become Reality?

  • In the spring of 2021, Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass held a series of 13 virtual town halls to hear from Kentuckians about what is and isn’t working in education for them and their families.
  • The Kentucky Coalition for Advancing Education – a diverse group of more than 50 stakeholders from across the Commonwealth – was formed in June 2021 to dig into the information from the town halls and do more empathy interviewing to create a report on this new vision for education called United We Learn: Hearing Kentucky’s Voices on the Future of Education.
  • KDE is developing a new strategic plan to move initiatives and innovations from ideas into action.  
  • Local Laboratories of Learning (L3s) are districts that are engaging in a collaborative improvement process in their communities that mimics the work done by the Kentucky Coalition for Advancing Education. Some are already piloting new assessment processes and ideas to reimagine the student experience through equitable and deeper learning opportunities. There are three L3 cohorts:​
  1. Cohort #1: Allen County, Fleming County, Frankfort Independent, Jefferson County, Johnson County, Logan County and Shelby County
  2. Cohort #2: Berea Independent, Boone County, Bullitt County, Corbin Independent, Greenup County and Lawrence County
  3. Cohort #3: Carter County, Floyd County, LaRue County, Rowan County, Warren County and Washington County

  • ​​​​Lessons learned from the Local Laboratories of Learning will be shared with districts across Kentucky and help inform how the statewide assessment and accountability system will evolve. KDE will create a tool kit so all school districts can use a similar collaborative approach with local stakeholders to continuously improve student experiences in the classroom.​





Toni Konz Tatman
Chief Communications Officer
Office of the Commissioner
Division of Communications
300 Sower Blvd., 5th Floor
Frankfort, KY 40601
(502) 564-2000 ext. 4602
Fax (502) 564-3049 



United We Learn logo

kids in front of a laptop

Evolution of this Vision 

​​United We Learn is based upon what the Kentucky Coalition for Advancing Education and the Kentucky Department of Education heard during an extensive listening campaign in 2021 that asked people from across the state about what is and isn't working in public education. The following – which can be found in the United We Learn: Hearing Kentucky's Voices on the Future of Education report​ --  is where Kentuckians say we are now and what they want their public schools to become. ​

  • A lot of good things are happening in Kentucky’s public schools, but often they are not done in a systematic way. We will use common vision, and local and statewide partnerships to organize and expand high-quality opportunities for each and every student. 
  • Schools are central to their communities, but there are obstacles to creating trusting, collaborative relationships. We will listen to each other and intentionally work together to better serve Kentucky’s students and communities. 
  • Education has been focusing more on meeting accountability rules, which makes it harder to take chances and create new partnerships. We will move from focusing on the narrow rules of accountability to be more responsive to the needs and desires of students and local communities, especially those who have been historically underserved. 
  • There still are inequities both in the opportunities students have and the outcomes they achieve. To make a real difference, we will move from a standardized approach to learning to one that recognizes and values the uniqueness of students and communities. 
  • Very few people feel seen or heard in the current education system. We will have a system where students are more than statistics and where students, families and teachers feel known and valued beyond their test scores. 
  • It’s important to know where we need to improve and to be accountable, but it’s also important to recognize both the strengths and challenges of local conditions and work together to find ways to succeed. We will create a system that shares information in a way that supports everyone in being partners in improvement, rather than “shaming and blaming.” 
  • By asking teachers and students to work in a standardized way, the current system of education does not recognize the complexities of modern life and its effects on the classroom. We will create conditions where everyone feels safe to try new things and improve by learning from one another, instead of competing.
  • ​​Schools need everyone to learn about and value a broader set of career goals and pathways to success. We will build a system that goes beyond a narrow set of subjects and expands what students imagine they could do to find individual fulfillment AND contribute to community prosperity. 
  • There is a widespread desire for an assessment and accountability system that goes beyond a narrow picture of student success. We will develop local and state accountability systems that work together to learn about and share a fuller picture of how communities are supporting student growth. 
  • Kentucky’s schools should not go “back to normal” and forget all of the lessons learned during the COVID pandemic. We will create a culture that doesn’t shy away from addressing tough issues and works to answer them as united communities. ​


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