Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging

DEIB Alignment to KDE Priorities

Published: 5/30/2024 11:10 AM

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Division of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) works in alignment with other Department of Education divisions to promote the United We Learn vision and provide guidance on equity concerns, presentations, data discussions and more! The division’s alignment to United We Learn can be seen through promoting the creation of inclusive environments that create belonging and allow for students to engage in vibrant learning experiences. This alignment image​ illustrates the many different levers the department, districts and schools have to advance equity. Each lever provides an opportunity for choice points where actions may advance equity or may not. It is the mission of the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) to make sure every student is equipped for the future.​​

Our Vision and United We Learn​

Each student and educator in Kentucky feels a sense of belonging.​

​In order to support Kentucky’s vision for education, United We Learn, one of the fundamental precursors to a vibrant learning environment, is creating a sense of belonging for all students and educators. A sense of belonging in schools describes the degree to which learners believe, experience and feel that they are accepted and respected as a valued contributor in their learning and social environment. By valuing the strengths in our diverse experiences, creating equitable access and learning opportunities, and collaborating to include the voice of each learner and family, a strong sense of belonging will be cultivated, and in turn, each student will be empowered and equipped to pursue a successful future. Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, at its core, is innovative because the work aims to problem solve and remove barriers that prevent students from experiencing a sense of belonging or from meeting their full potential. 

Our Mission​ and The Kentucky Board of Education

Create and deepen partnerships to remove long-standing barriers to equity by providing supports in developing an equity lens, elevating student, family and educator voice, and promoting equitable, inclusive and healing learning communities.​

In addition to supporting United We Learn, the Division Team of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging leans heavily on the Kentucky Board of Education's resolution affirming its commitment to racial equity in Kentucky public schools through a resolution adopted on July 10, 2020. The Kentucky Board of Education and the Kentucky Department of Education believe all students should have ​the necessary supports to reach their full potential as students and human beings. Our goal is to close the opportunity gap for all students and to prepare them for life and future success.​

Our Theory of Change

Culturally sustaining practices lead to student belonging which leads to vibrant learning experiences/engagement and student success.

  • ​Importance in Kentucky: High-Quality Instructional Resources require:
    • "engaging texts (books, multimedia, etc.), tasks and assessments"
    • "fostering vibrant student learning experiences"
    • resources that are "culturally relevant, free from bias; and accessible for all students"
  • Importance in KentuckyKentucky Impacts Working Conditions Data from 2023-2024 shared that:
    • ​Only 39% of educators responded favorably (frequently or almost always) to "How often do adults at your school have important conversations about sensitive issues of diversity, even when they might be uncomfortable?" 
    • Research shows that ignoring or avoiding race-related topics may increase harm while discussing these topics can reduce harm for all students (Gonzales, D, et al., 2022).

​​Our Work and Portrait of a Learner

Working to create environments of belonging for every student and educator models for students the skills and the environments central to the goals of Portrait of a Learner, specifically by demonstrating what it means to be an engaged citizen, effective communicator and productive collaborator. Empowered learning, critical thinking and creativity thrive in classrooms when students feel a sense of belonging and they see what it looks like and means to be an engaged citizen, effective communicator and productive collaborator.   

  • Engaged Citizen: Shows respect and empathy across differences, embraces diversity of opinion, seeks cultural understanding, participates in the democratic process to challenge the status quo, and makes a positive impact on their community and the world. 
  • Critical Thinker: Thinks deeply and makes informed decisions to create solutions or new understanding supported by relevant and reliable evidence. 
  • Effective Communicator: Engages diverse audiences respectfully by exchanging ideas and information responsibly, listening actively, speaking and writing clearly, and using print and digital media appropriately. 
  • Empowered Learner: Demonstrates mastery and application of academic competencies. Develops the skills and dispositions to persist through difficulties and plan for a future of self-improvement. 
  • Creative Contributor: Interprets experiences, imagines and plays with new possibilities with curiosity, and creates approaches that are novel, useful, and valued by the world around them. 
  • Productive Collaborator: Engages with others to achieve a common goal through building positive relationships, actively listening, showing empathy, and making individual contributions to a larger group.

​​Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging and KDE Priorities 

Trauma-Informed Plans and Practices: In 2019, the Kentucky General Assembly passed the School Safety and Resiliency Act. This Act affected multiple statutes regarding school safety and student resiliency and many agencies that work with districts and schools. Pursuant to KRS 158.4416, each local board of education must have developed a plan for implementing a trauma-informed approach in its schools by July 1, 2021. At a minimum, the plan shall include strategies for: 
  • Enhancing trauma awareness throughout the school community; 
  • Assessing the school climate, including but not limited to inclusiveness and respect for diversity;
  • Providing services and programs designed to reduce the negative impact of trauma, support critical learning, and foster a positive and safe school environment for every student.
Professional Standards for Educators and Leaders (PSEL): PSEL Standard 3, Equity and Cultural Responsiveness: “Effective educational leaders strive for equity of educational opportunity and culturally responsive practices to promote each student’s academic success and well-being.”
Comprehensive School/District Improvement Plan (CSIP/CDIP):​ When developed through a collaborative process involving multiple stakeholders and implemented with fidelity, the Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP) and the Comprehensive District Improvement Plan (CDIP) cultivate an environment that promotes student growth and achievement. Through this intentional process, schools and districts identify priority needs, strategically allocate resources, and monitor results to meet the needs of all students and close achievement gaps among identified subgroups. 
  • Each CSIP and CDIP has required goals (including one around the achievement gap) which are aligned to the goals of the problems of practice equity pillars.

​​The Kentucky Department of Education's Mission, Vision, Values and Portrait of a Learner

KDE Mission: “To create broad partnerships [with districts, schools, families, students, business and industry and communities] to provide leadership and support so that every student is equipped for the future.”​​
KDE Vision: United We Learn Vision (see below)​
United We Learn Council Moonshot: “To build a prosperous Kentucky, we will launch an accountability system that is meaningful and useful to all learners.”
Vibrant Learning Experiences (United We Learn): Learning that matters to students-- In partnership with families and communities, students are agents of their own learning, engaged in relevant, authentic and joyful learning opportunities. Vibrant learning honors students' cultural wealth, gifts and interests. Vibrant learning culminates in the application of knowledge and skills demonstrated through personalized products.
Innovation (United We Learn): means addressing the challenge to find better approaches to both teaching and assessments. We know the best organizations are those that are constantly evolving, improving, experimenting and sharing best practices.
Collaboration with Communities (United We Learn): means involving families, educators, students, community members and business leaders to help define and co-create opportunities that bring out students’ unique gifts. Collaboration should genuinely include people and groups who have not always been at the table when education policy decisions have been made.
Portrait of a Learner (21st Century Skills): engaged citizen, critical thinker, effective communicator, empowered learner, creative contributor, productive collaborator



​​ ​​Thomas S. Tucker, Ph.D.
Office of Teaching and Learning
300 Sower Blvd., 5th Floor
Frankfort, KY 40601
502-564-2106 Ext. 4840

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