Kaneland School District: Our Road to Personalized Learning

by Sarah Mumm, Patrick Raleigh and Laura Garland, Kaneland School District

Like most travel adventures, Kaneland CUSD #302’s road to implementing personalized learning has included stretches of open road, dangerous curves, forks in the road, and even some unexpected lane closures. Through it all, we have kept our GPS locked in on our final destination; a district where students are not just along for the ride, but actively engage in the journey.

Kaneland has been a member district of the Institute for Personalized Learning since 2015. Several teams of teachers and administrators participated in the Leadership Design Academy, attended site visits, and welcomed Institute leaders into our classrooms to provide professional learning around the Honeycomb Model and conduct site visits & analysis across all schools. Kaneland’s Educational Services Department built on these experiences by re-designing professional learning to support a district-wide adoption of personalized learning. In re-imagining professional learning, the team focused on incorporating the same personalized practices for staff that they desired to see implemented in classrooms. Key components of Kaneland’s professional learning structure include:

IgKnighters Fellowship: Launched in 2018, and intended for staff who want to take the lead in implementing personalized learning through the three core honeycomb cells prior to the district-wide implementation timelines. IgKnighters are empowered in leadership roles, provided financial support for materials to enhance personalized learning, and given priority consideration for conference attendance. 

Personalized Learning Yearly AcademiesThese internal, required professional learning days were designed to build consistent foundational knowledge among all staff. Each Academy focuses on one of the core honeycomb cells, and implementation is monitored through district-wide school improvement goals. Additional Academies are added as data demonstrates readiness. The multiple options provided to teachers for completing the 2021 Academy can be found HERE.

IgKnight Conference: Kaneland developed its own yearly, one day professional learning conference, with sessions led by Kaneland teachers, instructional coaches and administrators. Sessions focus on personalized learning practices, and other key district initiatives. The 2021 conference was attended by over 425 staff, who chose from over 70 sessions, including Co-constructed Cycles of Feedback, Learner Profile usage, proficiency table writing, and the creation of reading pathways, among others. 

District-Wide School Improvement Goals: In 2017, Kaneland moved from a model of developing individual school improvement goals for each school, to consistent, district-wide improvement goals across all schools. The intention was to support student growth within core Honeycomb cells across all schools. While individual schools developed site specific action plans, the overall goals were consistent. 

Connecting Danielson Clusters to PL: Kaneland utilizes Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching as its teacher evaluation tool. As we work to further the implementation of personalized practices, efforts were made to demonstrate the connections between the Institute’s Honeycomb Model and Danielson’s Domains. 

Kaneland 2020 Strategic Plan: Implemented in August 2017, Kaneland 2020 was developed by a group of stakeholders including staff, administrators, students and community members. The plan named personalized learning as one of 3 priority areas, and was driven by outcomes, actions and measurements. 

Northern Illinois University Teacher Leadership Cohort: Kaneland’s Educational Service Directors collaborated with Northern Illinois University to establish a teacher leadership endorsement within the M.S.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction program. In writing the curriculum for the endorsement program, Dr. Sarah Mumm and Mr. Patrick Raleigh worked to ensure current practitioners developed a thorough understanding of personalized practices and philosophies.


Moving forward, Kaneland has several projects in the works including:

  • Tools to Monitor PL Implementation: 
    • What I Noticed document. This is used during learning walks to share observational information. 
    • An internally created audit form is in development to be used to measure implementation along a continuum of indicators. 
  • Launching a new Strategic Plan, Kaneland Connects. This expands on the work of Kaneland 2020 by outlining 5 Commitments, all of which align with personalized learning, and make up the Kaneland Graduate Profile. 
  • Creation of a Personalized Learning Steering Committee to continue the infusion of personalized practices within all schools, including the expansion of customized pathways and continuum-based learning. 
  • Development of an IgKnight Academy for Kaneland students in grades 4-8 who are interested in experiencing education free from the traditional constraints of time, place, and pace. The Academy is set to open in the fall of 2023. Each consecutive year, a high school grade will be added, until the Academy serves students in grades 4-12. Additional information about the IgKnight Academy includes: Coming Soon Notice, Board Meeting Update, and 2021 Summer Update.

Despite the barriers that the COVID-19 pandemic placed in our path, our journey towards a truly student-driven district has continued, albeit with varying rates of speed. We are proud of the route we’ve carved thus far, and look forward to seeing where else this adventure takes us.

Author bios

Located in southwestern Kane County, in Northern Illinois, Kaneland serves 4531 students in grades PreK-12, across four elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. The mission of the district is to graduate all students college, career and community ready. Scaling personalized learning across all schools is a key strategy for achieving this mission.