Great to Greater: Johnson County School District

There is excitement building in the Johnson County School District! An excitement  to transform an already successful school system from great to greater! Noting that there has been a rapid change in new teachers and leadership, it was recognized that some structures are missing to ensure fidelity and successful criteria replication across all schools and in all classrooms. While tremendous gains have been realized in state accountability results, great improvement noted in high school graduation rates, and an increase in the number of students being both college and career ready, there are still the community “challenges” of poverty, drug-use, and the breakdown of home-life resources which create a need to be proactive. The Johnson County Shared Leadership Team decided to execute a systematic approach where structures will be in place to ensure that professional learning will be ongoing and job-embedded, thus meeting the needs of the adult learners and the students in the classrooms. The challenge of efficacy is to be extraordinary in practices, to be consistent, and to bring about successful results for all students every day, every year, and in every classroom! The “Problem of Practice” has been identified with the next step being to create and implement a solution plan.

Beginning in the summer of 2016 a selected group of administrators and teachers embarked on a system of change to solve the Problem of Practice (PoP) by joining a statewide learning community, the Next Generation Leadership Network (NGLN). Johnson County’s NGLN team, along with 21 other Kentucky P-12 district leadership teams, was invited to work alongside other educators to enhance and enrich knowledge, skills, and practices. The mission was to immerse in a model of inquiry and problem-based learning around a specifically and locally identified PoP related to scaling highly effective teaching, learning, and assessment practices. The leadership team in Johnson County chose “Assessment Literacy” as the PoP and thus the excitement began! The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) agreed to be a partner by providing experts as needed to support the learning.  Heady Larson and Chris Bentley, KDE consultants, offered professional learning, asking the leadership team to revisit their experiences with Classroom Assessment for Student Learning (CASL) as a means to acquire a deeper understanding of the professional role in Personalized Learning environments.  Through the Future Ready Assessment Initiative, initiated by KVEC, the leadership team was able to review data from other successful districts across the nation and to utilize strengths to empower the mission of building capacity.

Many commonalities with successful practices were noted, including Assessment FOR Learning (Stiggins), Professional Learning Communities (DuFour), Effective Grading Practices (O’Connor), and Personalized Learning with true student ownership. Dr. Thomas Guskey, distinguished author and professor at the University of Kentucky, has been invited to share his knowledge of Mastery Learning.  Moving from traditional grading practices to true Assessment FOR Learning will also assist the district in establishing a system of authentic structures.

Through the implementation of initiatives from KDE’s NGLN, KVEC, and district supports, the process of collaborative learning teams has become a model that combines a team approach to learning that is job-embedded, flexible, and ongoing. Great innovation begins with a dream; an idea for success. It’s the hard work of the team, strategic planning, and an aligned installation process that moves a dream into obtaining goals and reality. The move from great to greater is exciting!

For more information about the journey, Johnson County’s Problem of Practice, or integration of strategies to move the district from great to greater, you may contact Shauna Patton, Instructional Supervisor ( ) or Johnson County Schools Superintendent, Tom Salyer ( ).



Author: Salyer, Lisa

The article was submitted by Johnson County Schools NGLN & Shared Leadership Teams.

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