Strategic Plan Analysis for Kent School District

Laura A. Miller

Bowling Green State University

Author Note
Laura A. Miller, Eighth Grade Science Teacher, Napoleon Junior/Senior High School.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Laura A. Miller, Napoleon

Junior/Senior High School, 701 Briarheath Drive, Napoleon, OH 43545


This paper analyzes how Kent School District, located in Kent, Washington, has applied 21st

century educational concepts written by P21 Framework for 21st Century Learning, the

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards for Students and Teachers,

and transformational change. Suggestions for modifications and additions for improving Kent’s

strategic plan are also discussed.

Strategic Plan Analysis for Kent School District

Advancements in technology has changed the way we work, communicate, and educate.

Technology will continue to evolve into ways we cannot predict. In order for students to be

successful in the 21st century, educators must prepare students to not only use current technology,

but be prepared to tap into the potential of future technological innovations. For these reasons, it

is important for school districts to systematically evaluate strategic plans for digital learning on a

routine basis.


Kent School District is one of the largest school districts in Washington. It serves over

27,000 students in four high schools, six middle schools, twenty-eight elementary schools, and

three academies in approximately seventy-one square miles (Kent, 2017). According to the Kent

School District website (2017), grades K-6 have a 3.1:1 ratio, grades 7-11 have a 1:1 ratio, and

grade 12 has a 1.7:1 ratio. Kent School District, located in Kent, Washington, published its

strategic plan and serves as an excellent example of what all school districts should aim to create.

Kent’s strategic plan has four primary goals (2017). The first goal focuses on preparing

students to be college and career ready by closing the gaps in student achievement. The second

goal stresses the importance of communication between parents, staff, and the community. The

third goal expresses the need to create an organization system that reinforces equity and

excellence. The last goal states the district’s desire to develop and retain a diverse workforce.

Kent developed their strategic plan by collaborating with a diverse stakeholder group that

included leaders from businesses, higher education, faith-based and civic communities, parents,

students, teachers, principals and office staff. The first goal states that the school should have

common curriculum and instructional models that anticipate how to best educate students of

today so that they succeed upon graduation. The instructional model includes creating access to

online student data with universal designed lessons for all teachers. Kent also states the need for

an increase in common planning time and instructional coaches.

The second goal centers around creating a culturally diverse learning environment that

promotes respect and acceptance. Kent wishes to strengthen their dual language programs and

improve communication between the school, parents, teachers and the community. The third

goal is closely tied to goal number two. By creating a culture of respect, there should be equity

and equal access to all high-quality resources. High-need students need to be identified and

supported early and often through better two-way communication between the school and

parents. Kent will create a biannual and continuous improvement committee that will verify

progress in achieving their goals.

The fourth goal emphasizes the need of recruiting and hiring a diverse staff. Their plan

includes increasing staff of color. This goal also addresses improving onsite professional

development and reducing time away from the classroom. Teachers and staff should utilize

online learning and after-hours professional development. The school should have instructional

coaches that model technology-integrated lessons and teaching to a diverse classroom.

P21 Alignment

The overall vision of the P21 Framework for 21st Century Learning is “learning to ensure
student success is a world where change is constant and learning never stops” (P21, 2016). Kent
School District’s strategic plan first goal addresses the importance of ensuring students are
college and career ready. Both the P21 framework and Kent’s strategic plan have many
similarities, but also it has several differences.
Kent School District’s strategic plan and the P21 framework both focus on having
students thrive in a digital world. In order for this to occur, communication and collaboration
must be a priority. Conversations and collaboration between schools, teachers, parents, and
community services must take place in order to support student learning. Both plans agree that
teachers need dedicated time to discuss student achievement and analyze data from assessments.
Quality professional development is also mentioned as ways to implement both plans.

Kent and P21 examine cultural diversity and respectful learning environments. Kent
specifically states that hiring staff of color that have proven experience. Modeling leadership,
initiative and cross-cultural skills are all essential for diverse classrooms.
The first difference is the stakeholders who developed the plans. Kent’s stakeholders
were more diverse and included businesses, higher education, faith-based and civic communities,
parents, students, teachers, principals and office staff. The P21 framework ignores higher
education, faith-based and civic communities, parents and office staff. Ignoring the input of
faith-based and civic communities is detrimental to providing a respect for cultural diversity.
The second difference between the P21 framework and Kent’s strategic plan involve the
different literacies that are important to possess in order to succeed in the 21st century world.
Kent does not address global awareness, economic, health, environment and civic literacies.
Kent also ignores life and career skills such as flexibility, adaptability, time-management, and
being self-directed and work independently. While Kent’s strategic plan might imply some of
these topics, the P21 framework is very thorough regarding what each literacy means and the life
and career skills.
The third difference involves the meaning of “equitable.” According to Kent (2016),
equity refers to all students and staff having equal access to resources based on individual needs
(p. 22). The P21 framework assumes that schools are providing this to their students. P21
discusses critical thinking, analyzing, and innovation in this context, whereas Kent does not.
Should Kent provide this technology, those P21 skills could be addressed in more detail.
Standards•S Alignment
Kent School District’s strategic plan and the International Society for Technology in
Education (ISTE) standards for Students (Standards•S) are different due to the audience. The
student standards could be used in conjunction with Kent’s strategic plan to make it more
comprehensive. The core values of Kent’s plan are having equal access to quality resources,
academic, social and career-readiness skills, and community involvement (Kent, 2016).
Standards•S details what students should be able to do in order to meet those core values.
Standards•S one addresses creativity and innovation and Standards•S four addresses
critical thinking, problem solving and decision making. Specifically, students will be able to
apply knowledge by creating original works and use models and simulations to explore complex
issues. Kent’s plan refers to raising the academic bar and learning is best done through modeling
and collaboration. If Kent infuses standards one and four into their curriculum, then students
will be able to demonstrate creativity, innovation and critical thinking skills.
Both Standards•S two and Kent’s strategic plan state that communication and
collaboration are key elements in making students 21st century learners. Goal two in Kent’s plan
states, “Engage parents, students, staff, and community members in two-way communications
focused on equity and excellence” (p.10). Standards•S two focuses more on how to
communicate by using digital media and project teams to solve problems. Standards•S and Kent
mention the need for cultural understanding and mutual respect. Kent addresses this through
implementing anti-bullying curriculum, proactive student code of conduct and increasing support
for English language learners. Standards•S do not give strategies for schools to try.
Standards•S three regarding research and information fluency is much like Kent’s
strategic plan. Kent states that student data should be analyzed to guide instruction. Standards•S
three only differs in that it states the data should be used ethically and use appropriate digital
tools based on the task.
Standards•T Alignment

The ISTE Standards for Teachers (Standards•T) indicates that teachers should apply
knowledge of the ISTE Standards•S as they design and implement lessons. Standards•T one
addresses facilitating student learning by inspiring creativity through real-world problems,
reflection and collaboration. Goal four of Kent’s strategic plan not only discusses having a
diverse workforce, but also identifies that hands-on learning, live modeling, and instructional
coaching are the most impactful ways to improve instructional methods (p. 18). Under Kent’s
plan, the school will develop a systematic way of sharing best practices across their district.
Standards•T three, model digital age work and learning, says that collaboration between students,
peers, parents and community members using digital tools is one way to support student success
and innovation.
Creating a learning environment that is safe also means ensuring students are using
technology responsibly, ethically, and legally. Standards•T four promotes positive digital
citizenship through modeling. Teachers at Kent will model positive use of technology by
“enforcing a proactive code of conduct that includes the early elimination of verbal insults and
bullying” (p. 10). Their goal is to implement an anti-bullying curriculum that is inclusive of all
Standards•T number five addresses professional growth and leadership. Standards•T
recognizes the efforts teacher put forth to continuously improve their craft. To be a 21st century
teacher means to participate in not only local events, but global opportunities for professional
development. Kent goal four states that high quality professional development is needed to build
instructional capacity. Kent’s plan indicates that having a diverse staff with proven experience,
identifying leadership talent, having experienced mentors and incentivizing leaders with new
technology will help achieve this goal (p. 18).
Alignment to Transformational Change Framework
Much has changed over the past several decades in regards to society’s workforce.

Today’s employee must be equipped to learn and apply new knowledge and skill on demand. In

the 2009 article, “The Need for Systemic Transformational Change in School Districts,” written

by Francis Duffy, she argues that America’s school districts are still serving the educational

needs of the Industrial Age instead of today’s Information Age. Transforming education to a

system that supports a learner-centered, customizable education philosophy will ensure that no

student will be left behind. Duffy (2009) states, “To correct this co-evolutionary imbalance

whole school systems must be transformed to provide children with a customized, personalized

education.” Personalized education uses the needs, interests, and abilities, of each student and

also allows him or her to work at their own pace (Duffy, 2009).

Transformational change can be divided into three paths: “Path 1- transform the system's

core and supporting work processes; Path 2 - transform the system's internal social infrastructure;

and, Path - 3 transform the system's relationship with its external environment” (Duffy, 2009).

Kent’s blueprint states that three specific values, equity, excellence and community, are priority

(Kent, 2017). While the values do not match precisely to transformational change, equity is an

important factor. Student equity at Kent ensures that all students have equal access to quality

staff, courses, activities, services and resources based on their individual needs (p.4). Goal one of

Kent’s strategic plan looks to anticipate how to best educate today’s children. If following

transformational change proposed by Duffy, they will seek ways to innovate and not reorder their

current system.

Kent stresses the need to close the PreK-16 achievement gap by establishing performance

targets to track achievement. Kent’s instructional model aims to “build a stream-lined, teacher-

designed instructional model responsive to local school data patterns and teacher priorities for

lesson design.” This teacher-centered approach may or may not align with transformational

change. Kent indicates in its goals that students should be college and career ready. If teachers

are not being trained how to individualize education, as Duffy states, then the Kent system is still

catering to the Industrial Age paradigm.

Suggestions for Modifications and Additions
Kent’s mission to create a whole school system of excellence through four goals and a set
of core values mostly aligns with the key concepts of the P21 Framework, Standards•S,
Standards•T and Transformational Change. The school district might better serve its
stakeholders by providing a supporting document that details the topics of professional
development courses they intend to offer and a timeline for teachers. Also, examples of
assessments for students, parents, and teachers to refer to would be a helpful way to model what
a successful assessment entails.


Duffy, F. (2009). The need for systemic transformational change in school districts (part 1).

International Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation, 4(1). Retrieved from

International Society for Technology Education. ISTE standards students. (2008). Retrieved


International Society for Technology Education. ISTE standards teachers. (2008). Retrieved


Kent School District. (2017, May 17). Blueprint: Leaning forward together 2016-2021.

Retrieved from


Kent School District. Our schools. (2017, May 17). Retrieved from

Kent School District. Our district. (2017, May 17). Retrieved from

Partnership for 21st Century Learning. P21 Framework for 21st century learning. (2016,

January). Retrieved from