A northeast suburb of Kansas City, MO, Liberty Public Schools (LPS) used the Cognia accreditation process to improve its data gathering and analysis process. The collected data helped to inform the district’s strategic plan and its guiding documents: LPS’ Vivid Vision and graduate profile. Cognia membership can guide your strategic plan, too, with accreditation, surveys and observation tools. Learn more about pathways to improvement with Cognia membership.
While Liberty Public Schools (LPS) was already a high-performing school district, its superintendent, Dr. Jeremy Tucker, wanted to move beyond simply complying with state standards. In 2019, he prepared to update the district’s strategic plan and make it more agile and flexible so that it aligned with LPS’ commitment to innovation. Dr. Tucker and his strategic leadership team consulted with Cognia and used its accreditation processes and standards to help guide their strategic planning.
Cognia accreditation experts used a proprietary diagnostic, based on rigorous research and best practices, to evaluate how well the district was meeting learners’ needs. During the accreditation review, the Cognia team regularly conducted and reviewed surveys that assessed the schools’ climate, educational programs, and resources. In addition, the team conducted classroom walkthroughs and held focus groups with district and building-level leaders, students, and parents. Cognia also helped the LPS team interpret the collected data for decision making.
The knowledge and insight the district gained helped to guide its creation of a graduate profile and a Vivid Vision guide. The graduate profile outlines the skills and dispositions that should be instilled in students to ensure their lifelong success. The Vivid Vision document presents the district’s vision of “a future where learning is personalized to meet the academic and social emotional needs of all learners while ensuring their aspirations are within reach.” Those two documents steered the work for the new strategic plan.
By 2021, LPS had succeeded in fully meeting 10 of Cognia’s 12 standards for an effective learning culture and had implemented quality practices that were effectively meeting improvement requirements for the other two standards. In addition, prior to partnering with Cognia, LPS, like many districts, had found comprehensive data collection, management, and analysis to be challenging. Now, each of its 19 schools use Cognia’s parent, staff, and student surveys.
The processes and programs the district has put in place helped educators to address student needs during pandemic lockdowns. As a result, the proportion of LPS students scoring as proficient or advanced on Missouri’s English language test declined by only 3.5 percentage points, from 62.9% in 2018 to 59.4% in 2021. The district also adapted quickly to the needs of English learners (ELs). In 2020, the percentage of EL students who became proficient in English fell from 67% to 28% due to disrupted learning. But the following year, despite students still recovering emotionally from the turmoil of the lockdowns and pandemic, the percentage of EL students gaining English proficiency rose to 44.5%.
The district’s board of education formally adopted the updated strategic plan in the fall of 2021. In keeping with its dedication to innovation, the district is now exploring new possibilities such as integrating real-world learning experiences into instruction. As with the strategic plan, school leaders are reviewing past data to plan future actions.
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