Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) lies 30 miles outside of Washington DC. Rapid growth in the area has made it the fastest growing school division in Virginia, and one of the fastest growing in the country. The district serves nearly 84,000 students across 16 high schools, 17 middle schools, 59 elementary schools, three academies, and one alternative education center. 50% of students have access to a personal, school-provided device, and 100% of them have access to high speed broadband internet. 18% of students are on free or reduced lunch.
While Loudoun County’s economy has historically depended on agriculture, the construction of the Washington Dulles International Airport and the tech boom in the latter half of the 20th Century led to rapid suburbanization and a supporting service economy. In order to better support future industry and inform student career pathways, we developed a strategic plan for 2015-2020: Vision 20/20. Specifically, the program aims to promote personalized learning through Project Based Learning (PBL) opportunities and student-created digital content. This year, we are evaluating Vision 20/20 and will be re-designing our framework to increase outcomes.
In order to better support these strategies, we participated in Digital Promise’s Real World Learning Challenge Collaborative which promotes experiences that prepare students for life beyond school. These experiences include connecting students with qualified specialists in specific fields of study which align with classroom curriculum. Students link classroom learning with real world application of the concepts being taught through internships (paid and unpaid), job shadowing, and guest speaker sessions, allowing students to explore their passions and to make informed decisions regarding their careers. We believe that increasing teacher awareness of promoting community partnerships and community connections will expand student participation in real world and virtual opportunities.