United We Learn

United We Learn

Published: 6/27/2024 11:20 AM

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​       ​​​teacher teaching to the students in a class

What is United We Learn?​

United We Learn is our vision for the future of public education in Kentucky. This vision builds around three big ideas: 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. ​​​These three big ideas – students, innovation and community – form the vision for the future of public education in Kentucky.

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. These 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, students, community members and business leaders – working together to support our public schools in bringing about deep and authentic learning experiences for all students. 


Why is United We Learn So Important?

Students across Kentucky are growing up in a globally interconnected world that is accelerating in competitiveness and possibility. We know that every student has the potential for success, but learning opportunities and outcomes have been uneven. While many students and school districts are thriving, others are struggling. Even for those districts with stronger outcomes, we envision a spirit of constant improvement, innovation and sharing the best ideas with others. This is the way Kentucky’s children will realize their full potential and we must ensure high-quality learning experiences to meet the needs of all students.


How Will We Realize This Vision?

Opportunities to engage communities and create deep and meaningful learning experiences for students abound in our Commonwealth. Every district, school and community must aspire to accomplish the vision people from across the state imagined in United We Learn, and help bring about a bold new era of education in Kentucky.​ ​This is how the three big ideas of United We Learn appear in the work of KDE and across the Commonwealth:​

Vibrant Student Experiences

2 students and a teach in a gym, both students are smiling.

Vibrant student experiences spark curiosity, motivation and engagement, while cultivating enthusiasm for lifelong learning. A key part of this effort will be creating more personalized education experiences, which recognize that each family has a unique story and ensure each student feels known, supported and challenged to succeed. ​

As defined by the Kentucky United We Learn Council​: ​ 

"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.​​

Encouraging Innovation

A teacher and 2 students seem to be working on a bicycle.

​​Encouraging innovation in our schools 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 -and this is especially true in education. Teachers must feel safe trying new things, which fosters a culture of innovation as part of everyday practices. Students will be encouraged to answer questions such as “How can I solve this problem?” and “Is there a better way?”


Collaboration with Our Communities

2 Students and an adult are in a lab of some sorts in matching blue suits examining a machine. ​​C​ollaboration with Our Communities means involving families, educators, students, community members and business leaders to help define and co-create opportunities that bring out students’ unique gifts. Kentuckians told us that we needed to work on finding genuine ways to collaborate with people in our local communities, especially people and groups who have not always been at the table when education policy decisions have been made. Each family has a unique story and each child has individual talents to contribute - and those should be valued and understood.​​​​

United We Learn and Kentucky's Portrait of a Learner​

A Portrait of a Learner (PoL) is an agreed-upon set of school or district-level aspirations for what every learner will know and be able to do when they leave school. That exit may happen at the end of elementary school, middle school, high school graduation or at any other checkpoint along the way. The Kentucky statewide Portrait of Learner, approved by the Kentucky Board of Education in October 2022, identifies the skills students need to be prepared for an ever-changing world that is driven by technology, human interaction and innovation. This portrait gives school leaders and teachers the framework to design instruction in a way that promotes real-world competencies and job readiness. Kentucky's statewide PoL aligns with the three big ideas of United We Learn and will enable this vision for transforming education in the Commonwealth to come to life throughout our districts, schools and classrooms. 

Learn more

Portrait of Learner FAQs​

Jennifer Ginn
Communications Director
Office of the Commissioner
Division of Communications
300 Sower Blvd., 5th Floor
Frankfort, KY 40601
(502) 564-2000
Fax (502) 564-3049 

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