County leaders launch Kern Education Pledge  

Kern County leaders, spanning K-16 education, along with community partners, formally launched a first-of-its-kind local alliance called the Kern Education Pledge during a special event held today at CSU Bakersfield. The Pledge will begin the work of transforming Kern County’s educational system to ensure a seamless pathway that prepares students for college and career. Kern Education Pledge membership is composed of representatives from all 47 Kern County school districts, CSU Bakersfield, the Kern Community College District, Taft College, and the business sector.

“Although local educators and institutions have always worked collaboratively, 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. Ultimately, our goal is to close achievement gaps between student groups and prepare students for the world of work,” said Dr. Mary Barlow, Kern County Superintendent of Schools.

The creation of the Kern Education Pledge stems from a shared belief that no single program or institution can singlehandedly solve the complex, large scale, education and workforce readiness challenges facing our community. Furthermore, collectively improving student outcomes requires innovative and sustained collaboration across institutions to achieve significant and lasting change.  The genesis of the Kern Education Pledge was a collaborative effort between Kern County schools and the Kern Community Foundation.  A group of educational leaders serving students in grades K-16, known as the Kern K-16 Education Partnership, and the Kern Community Foundation are leading the work of the Kern Education Pledge.

While recent positive progress has been made — as evidenced by Kern County outpacing the state of California’s growth on academic indicators — Kern is still underperforming in overall performance. Additionally, only 22.9 percent of Kern County residents hold an associate’s degree or higher, compared to the statewide average of 40.4 percent.

“We believe we can do better, but we must lean on each other to do so,” Dr. Kevin Silberberg, Superintendent of the Panama Buena Vista Union School District.  “It is no longer possible for us to work in isolation and simply pass students on to the next level.  We are responsible collectively for the success and failure of our students.”

The Kern Education Pledge is focused on helping students succeed from the moment they enter kindergarten to the time they enter the workforce and has identified key goals across important grade level benchmarks from pre-kindergarten through the employment beginning:

  • Pre-school — Increasing the percentage of children entering school ready to learn.
  • Elementary — Increase the percentage of students reading at grade level by the end of 3rd grade and increase the percentage of students demonstrating core math proficiencies by the end of 5th
  • Middle School — Increase the percentage of students demonstrating reading proficiency by the end of 8th grade and increase the percentage of students demonstrating math proficiency by the end of 8th
  • High School — Increase the percentage of high school students graduating ready to succeed. Success will be measured using multiple metrics such as the number of students meeting the A through G requirements or the number of students in the 12th grade taking college prep English and mathematics, for example.
  • Post-Secondary — Increase the percentage of students enrolling in and completing post-secondary programs and entering the skilled workforce.

“We feel that focusing collectively on these key transition points and accompanying goals, and gathering data on each point, regularly, and developing action plans to meet these goals will generate the collective outcomes we want for our all of our students over time,” Barlow said.

To ensure progress toward these goals is made in the most efficient manner possible, Kern Education Pledge members have committed to:

• Meet regularly, recognizing that work is generational and requires long-term stakeholder commitment;
• Work together within an environment of co-learning and collaboration;
• Share best practices, services and resources;
• Commit to innovation and possibility thinking to achieve greater outcomes for all students; and
• Share student data to set baseline measures and monitor progress toward achieving collective goals.

For more information about the Kern Education Pledge, please visit