The Kansas State Department of Education contracted with Cross & Joftus, LLC to work with 17 Kansas districts struggling to make AYP, including USD 480 in Liberal.
The goal of the Learning Network is to improve school and district quality and increase student achievement through a collaborative, organization-development approach focused on applying systems theory and using data effectively.
The group first conducted a needs assessment and then interviewed focus groups that included students, parents, civic leaders, teachers, academic coaches, principals, district administrators, and board members. They also did classroom observations.
The Learning Network's findings for Liberal concluded that Liberal has reoriented its approach to educational change. The approach is tied primarily to Literacy First.
The Learning Network also reported back that the district appears to have a strong administrative team and strong leadership at the principal level.
"District leaders appear to work well together and to function as an effective team. This has helped the district create a unified improvement strategy," The Learning Network said.
The group also found that the Board of Education has been undermined as a result of recent activities related to the bond and that some trust with the community has been lost. The group recommends the board work on restoring this trust for the future.
Some of the district's more seasoned educators expressed concern over the district's commitment to Literacy First long term since the disrict has a history of not sticking with some of the programs they have started according to some educators. However, the Learning Network feels that the district does appear committed for the long term.
The group also wrote that they feel that the district budget does appear to be managed well, and that the district has made a concerted effort that its teachers are paid well.
Cross & Joftus, LLC who helped partner with the Kansas State Board of Education in this project is located in Maryland.