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Member Practices

Profiles of Innovative EdLeader21 Members

Location: Chesterfield, Virginia (Richmond Metro area)
Grades served: K-12
Total number of students: 59,000
Total number of schools: 11 high schools, 12 middle schools, 38 elementary schools, 13 specialty centers, and 2 technical centers
Superintendent: Dr. James F. Lane

Using PBL, blended learning and service learning, CCPS is preparing 59,000+ students to thrive in a rapidly changing world. The video on the left illustrates how these strategies come together at Tomahawk Creek Middle School.


Adopting a Vision

JULY 2016 — Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS) is an award-winning school system located in the Richmond Metro area in Central Virginia. Chesterfield is among the 100 largest school districts in the nation and the fourth largest in Virginia.

Retiring Superintendent Dr. Marcus J. Newsome is completing his 10th year as superintendent of Chesterfield County Public Schools. In partnership with the School Board, educators and the community, he has transformed the school system into a national leader in preparing students for 21st century learning and global citizenship. In July, Newsome was succeeded by James F. Lane, formerly superintendent of Goochland County Public Schools. Lane was recently named 2016 Superintendent of the Year by the Virginia Association of School Superintendents this week. He was an assistant principal at Carver Middle School in Chesterfield beginning in 2006.

Dr. Newsome took the helm at CCPS in August 2006 and led the year-long strategic planning initiative, Design for Excellence 2007-2013 (adopted December 11, 2007). This six-year Design for Excellence (DfE 2013) reflects eighteen months of work on the part of the School Board and Superintendent, staff, and over 240 internal and external stakeholders, who participated as members of Innovation Teams to set targets on key measures of success and to identify research-based strategies and annual action steps to achieve the objectives and meet our goals. The plan focused on improvement and vision achievement, defining approaches and steps to be taken to close gaps and achieve thriving, dynamic and inspiring schools that produce self-directed learners with 21stcentury skills and in which the community trusts and invests and from which it benefits.

Objective 1.1 of the plan is “To prepare students through high expectations and rigorous coursework to become citizens who are self-directed with 21st century skills.”

The original Design for Excellence was adopted in December 2007, then modified in June 2008 and June 2009. That plan, which charted the course of Chesterfield County Public Schools for six years, contained five goals addressing student goals and employee goals. As Chesterfield County Public Schools achieved most of the objectives in that strategic plan, it was time to for a new strategic plan. The process to update the school system’s strategic plan, the Design for Excellence, began in 2010 with forums to spark community conversations on such topics as online education and the importance of science, technology, engineering and math.  

After the forums, parents, business representatives, community leaders and educators were invited to participate on working committees—called innovation teams—to revise the Design for Excellence and chart the future of Chesterfield County Public Schools. A kickoff meeting took place in January 2011 and the new plan was completed and adopted in May 2012.

       Design for Excellence 2020 (homepage)

Comprehensive Plan Design for Excellence 2020 (380 pages) includes the strategic plan, accountability measures, needs assssment, and supporting plans:
  • Communication and Engagement Plan
  • Technology Master Plan and revisions (adopted March 23, 2012)
  • Professional Development Plan
  • Focus on Curriculum and Instruction
Facts about Design for Excellence

Design for Excellence 2020 Guiding Principles

Design for Excellence 2020 Action Timetable

Published November 2012


“So, what does the Design for Excellence 2020 mean for our students?” wrote Superintendent Newsome in May 2012. “Once it is fully implemented, our students will have access to anytime, anywhere learning and will integrate 21st-century skills and content socially and academically by using reasoning and problem-solving skills to promote higher-level thinking. They will gain knowledge to understand and solve real-world situations.” The plan highlights blended learning, service learning, and project-based learning.

The Comprehensive Plan Design for Excellence 2020 (380 pages), published November 2012 incorporates these focused plans:
  • Communication and Engagement Plan
  • Technology Master Plan and revisions (adopted March 23, 2012)
  • Professional Development Plan
  • Focus on Curriculum and Instruction

The Chesterfield County School Board adopted new vision and mission statements on May 24, 2012:

  • vision — Chesterfield County Public Schools will provide an engaging and relevant education that prepares every student to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing world.
  • mission — Chesterfield County Public Schools, in partnership with students, families and communities, emphasizes and supports high levels of achievement through a global education for all, with options and opportunities to meet the diverse needs and interests of individual students.

Creating Community Consensus  

Both DfE 2007-2013 and DfE 2014-2020 engaged large numbers of stakeholders. Parents, business representatives, community leaders and educators worked together to chart the future of Chesterfield County Public Schools.

The Comprehensive plan includes a Communication and Engagement Plan 2012-2014 with these goals:

  • Goal 1: Effective and Efficient Communications
  • Goal 2: Equip All Employees to be Ambassadors
  • Goal 3: Build Public Support for Public Education 

Chesterfield County informs its stakeholders through multiple mediums and venues:

Focusing Curriculum and Assessment

Chesterfield County Public Schools embraces three big ideas based on national best practices and cutting-edge research to provide an engaging and relevant education:

  • blended learning, which combines technology with face-to-face instruction and leads to anytime, anywhere learning
  • project-based learning, which promotes problem solving, collaboration and communication
  • service learning, which connects students with the community
CCPS 21st Century Learning Framework, updated June 2011


These big ideas, which are the bedrock of the Design for Excellence 2020 strategic plan, are helping students achieve these goals:

  • Goal 1 — All learners will acquire, analyze, synthesize and evaluate information to solve meaningful problems and to achieve success as productive, thriving global citizens.
  • Goal 2 — All learners will demonstrate the 21st-century learning and technology skills and knowledge that will prepare them for success in school, postsecondary education, work and life in a global society.
  • Goal 3 — Working in partnership with school and family, all learners will understand, model and embrace the important attitudes and attributes necessary to be responsible global citizens.

Design for Excellence 2014-2020 led the district to develop many new innovative practices and programs:

1. Grading Practices aligned with 21st Century Skills - For the first time, starting the 2015-2016, K-5 students are being assessed on performance in work-related skills. Parents will receive feedback on a student's work in the areas of critical thinking, responsibility, collaboration, communication, self-management and technology literacy. See the district's video explaining the new report card, along with the Report Card Newsletter and the Fifth Grade newsletter sent to families to explain the new report cards.

2. CCPS STEAM Initiative aims to empower students to achieve their potential in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. The initiative features intentionally integrated STEAM learning opportunities for each and every student in a prekindergarten-16 pipeline focused on 21st-century skills, STEAM literacy, the Rigor, Relevance and Relationship framework, the ability to compete in a STEAM-centric workforce, and preparation to pursue advanced STEAM degrees. The initiative is based on the STEAM Planning for the Plan, White Paper Presented to School Board, August 27, 2013. The district held a STEAM Expo in April 2016.

3. College and Career Readiness Month, held annually in November, helps every student answer this question: "What will I be when I grow up?" The idea is to have fun while helping students define and achieve successful futures beyond high school. See video.

4. Career and Technical Education— CCPS's Department of Career and Technical Education has joined hands with local business and industry to enable students of all ages to excel in their schools and colleges, and secure high-demand jobs. See videos of the Career and Technical Education Center Overview and the Carver College and Career Academy Dedication, April 5, 2016.

5. CodeRVA (Code Richmond, VA)— CCPS is partnering with 13 school divisions in Region One to build an innovative high school focused on Digital Literacy. Students will not only earn a high school diploma but will begin to work towards an associate degree, as well as earn real-world skills in working for a technology company focused on coding. 2016-2017 MOOC for all 9th grade students. 2017 starts physical building with 50-100 students per grade. CCPS 20% of total. See "Regional high school to teach coding and computer science to open next school year". The regional effort is being led by incoming CCPS Superintendent James F. Lane. 

Supporting Teachers

CCPS supports professional learning for its educators in its 3 focus areas of blended learning, project-based learning, and service learning. All CCPS employees are encouraged to commit to continuous learning, not only through contractual iLearn opportunities but through school-based professional development, professional learning communities, and other opportunities for growth.

Teachers, School Counselors, and Librarians complete 16 hours of iLearn PD focused on the 4Cs annually. iLearn opportunities include workshops, self-paced cycle of inquiry, book study, and specialized guided investigations like Designing a 21st Century Classroom. CCPS Professional Development opportunities and registration for teachers and other staff is on an internal web site SDRWeb.

Blended Learning - The school district has implemented one of the largest Google Chromebook initiative in the nation, Transforming Teaching and Learning through Anytime, Anywhere Learning, for 32,000 students and has become a leader in children's engineering, career and technical education and effective implementation of blended learning, project-based learning, service learning and social media.

The Instructional Technology Department provides technology training related to the 4Cs and is offering Summer EdTech Workshops in August 2016. Each three-hour workshop will provide the participants the opportunity to utilize and apply relevant tools to enhance classroom content with a focus on collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication (4Cs). 



Project-Based Learning (PBL) - The district from 2013-2016 entered into a systemic partnership with the Buck Institute for Education to develop teacher and coaching capacity for PBL.


The three-year Tactical PBL Implementation Plan and its Timeline has resulted in PBL training for 34 of 63 schools in CCPS, with 11 more schools coming on this summer 2016. In years one and two it was largely provided by BIE national Faculty, who simultaneously trained the district's curriculum specialists, technology integrators, and SPED specialists in PBL. This cadre of district coaches, called Capacity Builders, starting the 2015-2016 school year, now leads all district PBL training. The CCPS PBL plan and implementation is described in PBL System Planning at a District Level, a blog by CAO Donna Dalton, and in this archived webinar.

The CCPS - Best Practices for PBL web site hosts a plethora of great resources on 4 Competencies4Cs Rubrics, and PBL Training Materials. A PBL Edcamp will be held Friday, August 12, 2016.

Service Learning - Teachers throughout the district encourage students to bring a real world, service-learning element to their projects. A good example of this is the capstone project at Providence Leadership Academy Middle School. See videos here and here of the Casa Guatemala project.

Teaching and Learning Resources - The district has developed standards and rubrics for students in technology and global connections:


School Board members in March introduced new superintendent Dr. James Lane, who addressed school and community leaders (see video, March 24, 2016). Lane committed to sustaining CCPS's 21st century learning initiatives. "Know with me you're always going to have someone who's focused on the best interests of students," Lane told the assemblage of Chesterfield County Public Schools staff, School Board members and county supervisors. "You will never hear me talk about SOL scores. We talk about growth of students and engagement."

Retiring Superintendent Newsome has altered his retirement plans. At the request of state officials who encouraged him to accept the position, Dr. Newsome was recently named superintendent of the Petersburg City Public Schools.


    Superintendent's page


Additional videos


Previously featured member: Virginia Beach City Public Schools