Kern County, California, is striving for better student outcomes in its school districts, and Hoonuit is proud to join the effort as its data partner.
At the end of 2018, Kern County Superintendent of Schools launched the Kern Education Pledge. The primary goal of the Pledge is to give Kern County students options after they graduate, whether they choose to pursue a postsecondary education or jump right into a career.
The Kern Education Pledge is an impressively sweeping plan designed to tackle many of the unique challenges that come along with serving the 11th-largest county in California in terms of population and the third-largest in terms of geographic size. Nearly 75 percent of Kern County students are socioeconomically disadvantaged — 15 percent higher than the statewide average — and there are three times as many children in foster care in Kern County than in the state at large (per capita). As a result, dropout rates in Kern County are twice the national average, and only 23 percent of the county’s residents hold an associate’s degree or higher (barely over half the state average).
However, thanks to the power of Collective Impact and their new plan for improvement, stakeholders across Kern County are justifiably excited about what the future holds for their students, their schools, and their broader community.
The Kern Education Pledge is a formal agreement that outlines how schools, community leaders, and local institutions will work together to improve key student outcomes across the county. All 47 school districts in Kern County have signed on to this agreement, and have been joined by all local public institutes of higher learning, including California State University, Bakersfield, Taft College, and the Kern Community College District.
Execution of the Pledge is being led by the ten-member Kern Education Pledge Governance Council, which includes representative Superintendents from the 47 school districts who were elected by their peers, the President of California State University, Bakersfield, the Kern Community College District Chancellor, and the Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office. County Superintendent Dr. Mary C. Barlow and her office, the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, provide the logistical support for this collaborative effort.
“Kern Education Pledge members are committed to taking this collaboration to the next level by formalizing data sharing and engaging in activities around shared responsibility and shared accountability,” says Dr. Barlow. “Our goal is to focus on closing achievement gaps between student groups through an equity lens and ultimately prepare students for career and life success.”
One of the main tenets of the Pledge is to align — and keep aligned — a variety of student systems from pre-kindergarten all the way through college. This unique “cradle-to-career” initiative will help drive student outcomes by enabling schools to provide the right resources to the right students at the right time. Achieving this alignment will require participation from numerous stakeholders — elected officials, governmental agencies, private industry, the public as a whole — but as leaders of the Kern Education Pledge see it, investing in students today will pay off when these students go on to fill the most competitive, most meaningful jobs of tomorrow and contribute to the improvement of their local communities.
The Pledge’s overarching vision is to generate systemic change in Kern County’s educational pathways. This will involve building mechanisms to help teachers understand which students are struggling, providing students with tools to help them deal with those challenges, and making sure students have access to opportunities in their expressed areas of interest.
This revamped educational system will not only help elevate Kern County’s graduation rates, but will better prepare students to progress through their preferred professional trajectories once they enter the workforce.
To ensure these ambitious goals are met, Pledge participants will be asked to record and share large volumes of data on their students’ progress. This will enable them to track math and literacy proficiencies from early education through high school, gauge graduation and college-readiness throughout a student’s educational journey, and ultimately track student earnings and career success.
All the data that informs the progress of the Kern Education Pledge will be managed in the Kern Integrated Data System (KIDS), a data warehouse powered by Hoonuit and operated by the Kern County Superintendent of Schools. KIDS allows Kern County stakeholders to share real-time data on a range of student outcomes, enabling everyone to make informed decisions about what is best for students, teachers, and schools.
There are currently nine pilot districts implementing the KIDS initiative, representing over 113,000 students or 60 percent of all PK-12 students in the county: Bakersfield City School District, Kern High School District, Panama-Buena Vista Union School District, Buttonwillow Union School District, Greenfield Union School District, Mojave Union School District, Rosedale Union School District, Sierra Sands Unified School District, and Wasco Union High School District.
Hoonuit is extremely honored to be serving as the data partner in this important collective impact initiative that is striving to improve the outcomes of Kern County students and impact the future of the entire community for the better.