While all of the “five C’s” in this guide are essential, building individual and organizational capacity to advance efforts toward full operationalization of a Graduate Profile represents the lion’s share of the work. As referenced above, it’s most critical to build the capacity of teachers, but it’s also important to build the leadership capacity of site and district administrators, as well as the capacity of other school staff, parents, family members, and community members to participate as full, committed partners.

Operationalizing a Graduate Profile is pioneering work. It’s experimental. There’s no one right way to do it. That said, we can learn lessons from other states across the country that are further along in their journeys. The areas of work addressed below should be considered as a menu of options to be taken on gradually over time. Eventually, all may be essential, but districts will be well-served by identifying the one or two areas that they believe will have the greatest impact and serve as effective levers for further change.

To decide where to start, you may wish to consider the following questions:

  • What dynamics are at play in the community? Which lever(s) for change may be most welcomed and/or embraced by key stakeholders?

  • What needs have been elevated by the pandemic? How are key stakeholders eager to advance — i.e., equity, student agency, flexible scheduling, competency-based education?

As we “build back better,” there are several potential starting points to create equitable, student-centered and asset-based conditions for learning, including, but not limited to shifting instruction to be more engaging and relevant to students, assessing student progress by expecting them to demonstrate their competency, establishing classroom environments free of long-standing inequities rooted in white dominant grading and behavioral policies, and recognizing the value of expanded learning (after school, summer) to complement school-based opportunities for students to practice and demonstrate Graduate Profile outcomes. 

The ultimate goal is nothing short of transforming learning in a way that builds student agency, putting them in the driver’s seat to be inspired and supported to pursue their passions and make a difference in the world. This section begins with a couple of process recommendations, followed by resources for creating safe and equitable classroom environments, and ends with resources for shifting practices in instruction, assessment, and accountability. Taken together, they support strategic growth toward Graduate Profile implementation.


In order to choose a starting point, it often makes sense to build from strengths that are broadly embraced by the community. Every school district has tremendous assets upon which to build. Leveraging existing strengths is often the best starting point.

A middle school student poses with an open book

For each piece of the work described below, district leaders may wish to begin with these questions:

  • What are we doing well?
  • What have we learned from those successes?
  • How do they align with and/or inform our interest in bringing our Graduate Profile to life?
  • How can we leverage those assets to advance our work?


In order to move “from poster to practice,” adults throughout the system must embrace, model, and actively promote the Graduate Profile outcomes that they foster in their students (i.e., symmetric learning). Operationalizing the Graduate Profile is complex and requires more than routine expertise from teachers and leaders. To realize the promised outcomes, systems must address the social and emotional competencies that are assumed in collaborative professional learning. Practitioners must cultivate safe and supportive environments, strengthen relationships, and build adaptive expertise and mindsets through continuous learning from collaboratively reflecting on what’s happening for students in their classrooms. When educators practice public learning, grapple with uncertainty, question assumptions and implicit biases, and co-learn with their students, all learners are more likely to develop and demonstrate Graduate Profile outcomes.

  • How can we create the conditions for adult learning so that educators publicly and routinely display the mindsets and practices articulated in our Graduate Profile?
  • How can we leverage practitioner agency, curiosity, experimentation, and capacity to facilitate deeper learning that promotes Graduate Profile outcomes among students?

One of the Scaling Student Success partners, Lead by Learning (formerly Mills Teacher Scholars), has created a succinct playbook for creating the conditions for adult learning. The playbook highlights four key mindsets and four practices, listed below. They provide a healthy framework to guide capacity-building efforts.

What are your beliefs about adult learning?
How do they show up in the conditions for learning?
What are you trying to do?
What is the change that you want to see?
Teaching, leading, and learning are uncertain and complex work Use data to make learners’ experience visible
Equity requires questioning assumptions Supportively challenge colleagues
Learning is fundamentally social and emotional for adults as well as students Practice public learning
Agency and purpose drive curiosity and deep learning Make sense of goals collectively

Over time, educators may face multiple challenges as they breathe life into a Graduate Profile, including, but not limited to discussing antiracist grading policies, comparing teacher-generated rubrics in order to agree on common rubrics against which to assess student progress, and interrogating student work in order to calibrate teachers’ judgments about a student’s level of competency. Without a healthy culture of adult learning, these discussions can be fraught with dissent, defensiveness, and even unprofessional outbursts. On the other hand, with a spirit of shared learning and a culture of collaboration, these discussions may be productive, even transformative learning experiences.


Create welcoming, safe classroom environments where students experience a sense of belonging, trusting relationships, and increasing degrees of agency to guide their own learning

Students learn best when they are in safe, calm, and supportive environments, have a sense of belonging, and benefit from trusting relationships. When teachers and classmates know them well, celebrate uniqueness and difference, and support their growth, students are more willing to take healthy risks and find joy in learning. In contrast, brain science tells us that when students (in fact, people of all ages) suffer from chronic levels of stress, feel threatened or fearful, or are affected by other forms of adversity, they may shut down and be unable to develop healthily and achieve academically. For this reason, it’s essential for teachers to create a safe and supportive learning environment, free from abusive language, punitive discipline, bullying, and other counterproductive behaviors that can undermine trust, confidence, learning, and growth.

Turnaround for Children offers their Building Blocks for Learning as a framework for the development of skills children need for success in school and beyond.

Building blocks for learning graphic

Each element represents a set of evidence-based skills and mindsets that have been proven by research to strongly correlate to, and even predict, academic achievement. The framework draws from research in multiple fields to suggest movement from lower-order to higher-order skills. Overall, it provides a rigorous perspective on what it means to intentionally teach the whole child – to develop the social, emotional, motivational and cognitive skills in every learner.


Teach and support social and emotional development to help students become more self-aware, self-regulated, and socially aware and responsible

As defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), SEL is a process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

These SEL skills are captured as valued in every Graduate Profile. Below are a few examples:

  • Is self-directed. Perseveres through difficult tasks. (Evergreen SD)
  • Recognize and respect the differences in values that may exist between themselves and people from other countries or from varying social and cultural backgrounds. (Davis JUSD)
  • Sets and monitors goals for continuous growth. Manages time effectively. Embraces challenges with a growth mindset. Advocates for self and takes responsibility for learning. Practices self-reflection and self-regulation. (Novato USD)
  • Understand their own and others’ cultural heritage. Use their cultural knowledge to engage in a diverse world. (Pasadena USD)
  • Students are healthy, resilient and confident individuals with knowledge and skills about self-care tools and tactics that foster mental and physical wellness. They manage stress and anxiety through practices that promote a balanced lifestyle of good nutrition, exercise, sleep, and setting boundaries. (Santa Clara USD)

The pandemic has elevated the importance of attending constantly to the social and emotional needs of young people. According to recent YouthTruth surveys of 85,000 students, feeling depressed, stressed, or anxious has risen to the number one obstacle to learning (46%). Hispanic or Latinx, multiracial, and Black or African American students faced more obstacles on average than did white or Asian students. There is common agreement that attention to SEL must precede expectations that students will be ready to learn and achieve at high levels (i.e., Maslow before Bloom).

While important for students, the pandemic also raised the importance of attending to the social-emotional needs of educators. After all, only when teachers feel safe, supported, balanced, and inspired, can they be present and fully engage students in a way that supports their healthy growth and development. By establishing human-centered practices across the school, districts can address the needs of both students and educators.

Research has shown that social and emotional competence can be enhanced using a variety of classroom-based approaches such as explicit instruction, teaching practices, and curricular integration. High quality SEL instruction is sequenced, active, focused, and explicit. Effectively integrating SEL schoolwide involves ongoing planning, implementation, evaluation, and continuous improvement by all members of the school community. SEL efforts both contribute to and depend upon a school climate where all students and adults feel respected, supported, and engaged.


Shift punitive behavioral policies to asset-based restorative justice practices used to positively impact school culture, discipline, and academic success

According to YouthTruth student surveys, 60% of students believe discipline isn’t fair. Too often, punitive disciplinary policies can undermine the development and maintenance of safe and supportive learning environments. Even more concerning, research shows that these policies disproportionately affect Black, brown, and poor students, representing one of several long standing racist and oppressive structural inequities. Teachers, schools, and districts can begin to dismantle these inequitable policies and practices by pursuing one of several strategies that have become increasingly popular in the last decade, among them:


Change grading policies to allow redos and retakes and reflect student mastery over time through narrative feedback, rather than asserting inequitable forms of power and control by including behavior, participation, homework, and other criteria not related to student demonstration of mastery

When we talk about grading, we’re talking about culture. Grading practices should reinforce a safe, supportive learning environment, not undermine it by being used as a tool by teachers to assert power or control. It does not matter how a school talks about diversity and equity; if idiosyncratic and uncalibrated grading practices allow some teachers’ grades to be influenced by implicit bias, the students will get the message loud and clear that some are seen as more capable of learning than others. It does not matter how many posters about growth mindset and grit are on the walls of a school; if the teachers, through their grading systems, are sending messages such as “once you fail, there is never a way back” or “I don’t care; it’s your fault,” then students will perceive that the talk of growth mindset is hollow.

Conversely, if students share a perception that teachers assign the grades that students earn through hard work, and that teachers will support them until they can demonstrate mastery, then students will develop a belief that they can build on their mistakes and keep learning. The goal is for schools and districts to ensure that their grading and reporting systems help them build a nurturing, equitable, creative, and dynamic culture of learning.

The purpose of a grading system is to give feedback to students so they can take charge of their learning and to provide information to all who support these students—teachers, special educators, parents, and others. The purpose of a reporting system is to communicate the students’ achievement to families, post-secondary institutions, and employers. These systems must, above all, communicate clear information about the skills a student has mastered and the areas where they need more support or practice. When schools use grades to reward or punish students, or to sort students into levels, imbalances in power and privilege will be magnified and the purposes of the grading and reporting systems will not be achieved.


Advance toward a competency-based system of education that grants students agency over their own learning — setting goals, monitoring progress, accessing supports, and demonstrating competency in a culturally and linguistically sustaining way and timeline

By design, a Graduate Profile is outcomes-based — that is, it defines the knowledge, skills, competencies and mindsets that we expect for young people to demonstrate their readiness for future success in college, career, and civic life. District Graduate Profiles typically are silent on inputs used to foster the development of those outcomes. This is intentional. It creates freedom and flexibility for students, teachers, and community members to design and determine culturally-appropriate learning experiences. It encourages student voice and choice. Most important, it opens the door to grant students agency over their own learning.

A competency-based (also referred to as proficiency-based or mastery-based) system of education moves beyond the industrial age model of education where students move through in batches, spending the same number of hours to complete a set curriculum. This outdated system, defined by seat time and Carnegie units, runs counter to what research tells us about how students learn. A competency-based approach allows students to set goals, monitor their progress, access supports when needed, and demonstrate competency in a culturally and linguistically sustaining way and timeline. It puts students in the driver’s seat, promoting critical skills like self-management, independence, and responsibility.

Adopted from “The Lindsay Story: Confronting the Status Quo and Creating a New Vision for Learning,” the table below describes the differences between traditional (time-based) and performance-based systems of education.

Traditional (time-based) system Performance-based system
Movement (to new topic/lesson) based on time Movement based on mastery of content
Learning takes place only in the classroom Learning takes place anytime, anywhere
Driven by textbooks Driven by needs of learners
Teacher-centered decision-making Learner-centered decision-making
Focus on learning basic skills in different subject areas Focus on critical thinking and problem-solving skills across content areas
Teacher is the only judge of quality student work Self, peers, teachers, administrators, other stakeholders judge student work
Prepares learners for industry-age jobs Prepares learners for 21st century jobs

California trails most states in moving toward a competency-based system, in part because admissions to the state’s public colleges and universities are based on completion of the 15 courses that make up the “a-g requirements,” which are perceived to be “seat time” dependent. However, University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) campuses regularly admit students from schools, both in and out of state, that use competency-based approaches. Pioneers in CA include Lindsay Unified and Big Picture Learning schools.

“People learn in different ways and different time frames.”
Lindsay Unified guiding principle

In order to sustain the cultural and linguistic diversity of CA students, honor the unique strengths and needs of young people, and put agency in the hands of learners, we should feel compelled to advance toward a competency-based system of education, despite both the perceived and real policy and structural barriers to doing so.


Shift instructional methods to become increasingly student-centered and relevant, engaging and project-based

Most Graduate Profiles name core academics as one of many outcomes. Often, it’s the only content focused outcome, when others — like collaboration, creativity, and leadership — relate to skills, competencies, and mindsets. Needless to say, students cannot become skilled collaborators unless they have plenty of practice collaborating. They cannot learn leadership skills without opportunities to lead. And, students cannot learn creativity without multiple chances to express themselves in creative ways. These skills are content neutral. To facilitate student development and demonstration of Graduate Profile outcomes, it could be argued that how teachers teach is more important than what they teach.

The Graduate Profile itself is designed to be student-centered, i.e., prioritizing student voice and choice, building agency, and supporting a competency-based approach to learning that allows students to set their own goals, monitor progress, and demonstrate outcomes in the culturally and linguistically appropriate fashion and timeline. In order to grant students agency over their own learning, teachers must become a guide on the side, rather than a sage on stage, creating the right conditions for learning, facilitating powerful deeper learning experiences, and supporting and coaching students to persist and meet their potential.

Many instructional methodologies promote such a role for teachers, including project-based learning (PBL), work-based learning (WBL), and other forms of experiential learning.

Project Based Learning (PBL) is an increasingly popular teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects. While many teachers design and assign projects to students, California-based PBL Works supports teachers, schools, and organizations to follow their comprehensive, research-informed seven essential project design elements (Gold Standard PBL) to improve, calibrate, and assess their practice. The seven design elements include:

Work-based Learning (WBL) is an instructional methodology often associated with career-technical education (CTE) and/or college and career pathways. Ranging from career awareness (i.e., videos, classroom speakers, field trips) to career exploration (i.e., worksite visits, informational interviews, research) and career preparation (i.e., job shadows, internships, apprenticeships, industry-aligned projects), WBL offers powerful opportunities for students to practice Graduate Profile outcomes, often in a real-world setting with a real-world audience.

While historically rooted in CTE, there is no reason for WBL to be limited to these settings and learning environments. In fact, some highly touted educational innovators, like Big Picture Learning and High Tech High,

regularly use internships and other forms of WBL as a regular form of high leverage, high impact learning across academic and technical content areas.

Civic learning and engagement has recently been elevated in California with the approval of the Seal of Civic Engagement. The C3 Framework calls out four dimensions to deliberately promote high quality civic learning in all learning contexts.

These include:

  • INQUIRY: begin with a compelling question that is intellectually meaty, relevant and interesting to students, and will compel them to investigate a myriad of answers and solutions.

  • INVESTIGATION: dig into the content of a complex issue, past and present, to search for answers by applying research and analytical skills to examine the social, political, historical, economic, environmental, ethical,  and other trends and influences in decision-making.

  • CIVIL DIALOGUE: engage in civil and respectful dialogues to reveal multiple perspectives around controversial issues to arrive at a conclusion; then, to communicate their conclusions in a variety of ways – speaking, writing, and using various forms of media.

  • INFORMED ACTION: take effective, practical, and appropriate informed action on conclusions they have drawn by addressing issues and problems in the real world today.

These instructional or learning practices enable students to learn about civic and political issues, discuss and deliberate those issues while considering multiple viewpoints, and work with others to take informed action to address real world problems in any discipline.


Align out-of-school learning with in-school learning to expand the opportunities for students to practice and demonstrate Graduate Profile outcomes

The outcomes articulated on a Graduate Profile are expansive. Neither students, families, nor educators should expect young people to have ample time to practice and demonstrate these competencies within the boundaries of the classroom, clock (during the 8:00 – 3:00 school day) or calendar (during the 180 day school year). Rather, there should be an intentional effort to align learning that happens at school, at home, and in the community so that all of them foster a student’s advancement in the critical skills named on the Graduate Profile.

Circling back to the communications section above, it helps if all community members are not only aware of, but enthusiastically embrace the Graduate Profile. Ideally, each stakeholder group would have conversations about how they can facilitate formal and informal learning experiences, support student progress, and even contribute to assessing outcomes. These forums may be beneficial among after school program staff, summer learning providers, parents, work-based learning supervisors, employers who hire high school students, leaders of community-based and faith-based organizations, coaches, class and club advisors, activity directors, field trip docents, and others who interact directly with students.

Over the years, the Partnership for Children and Youth has reinforced the value and need to support social-emotional learning during expanded learning.

Leaders can promote alignment when contracting with after school providers, summer program directors, field trip hosts, industry partners, and others. Leaders may also wish to include key community partners in professional development sessions when teachers and instructional coaches are grappling with how to assess student progress, calibrate judgments using common rubrics, and support students in posting portfolio artifacts.

By expanding the circle of youth-serving providers who foster student progress toward the Graduate Profile outcomes, the broader community becomes aligned in supporting student readiness for future success.


Implement systems of performance assessment that use both formative and summative performance tasks as a means for students to demonstrate their progress and mastery of Graduate Profile outcomes

Graduate Profiles typically include outcomes that are difficult to measure using traditional test-based assessments. For example, a student’s ability to demonstrate competence in the “4Cs” — communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity — as well as common Graduate Profile competencies like media literacy, research, and civic engagement, cannot easily be determined through a paper-and-pencil test, but they can effectively be assessed through performance assessment — the demonstration and evaluation of applied skills that can be taught and learned. Simply, performance assessment is when someone shows what they can do and that demonstration is checked against a standard of quality.

A driver’s test is a common example. For a driver’s permit, one only needs to pass a written exam to prove basic understanding of content knowledge. But, the DMV would never put a driver on the road until he passes a behind-the-wheel test to show that he can apply the rules of the road under authentic circumstances. The driving test is a performance assessment, as would be a dance audition, a soccer tryout, an art portfolio, a persuasive essay, or a science experiment.

Assessment both informs instruction (formatively) and evaluates learning (summatively), making growth evident to each individual student as well as to the teacher throughout the learning process.

Envision Learning Partners defines high quality performance assessment as:

  • Eliciting evidence of learning that matters
  • Tight on its criteria of success
  • Open to different learner approaches
  • Authentic
  • A learning experience in and of itself

In addition to formative assessments, schools and districts with Graduate Profiles often require students to complete a culminating assessment — such as a senior project, portfolio defense, or exhibition — as a way for students to demonstrate their competency of several Grad Profile outcomes. To do so effectively, schools and districts create, adapt, and/or adopt common rubrics against which to assess student progress. In order for these assessments to be consistent, teachers must examine student work together and calibrate their scoring in order to assure that ratings are equitably applied. While challenging, such a calibration process has proven to be a powerful professional learning experience, forcing teachers to check their assumptions and biases, discuss what determines quality, and learn from and with colleagues.

Performance assessments get the best results when positioned as formative and summative measures of a whole aligned system of teaching and learning rooted in students demonstrating skills and knowledge that matter. Establishing a high quality Graduate Profile is the basis of alignment for a high quality performance assessment system.


While student progress on many outcomes articulated in a Graduate Profile can be authentically assessed through performance assessment, others are harder to measure in any kind of rigorous way. Typically, a Graduate Profile will list a number of social-emotional outcomes, such as empathy, resilience, self-awareness, social awareness, self-reliance, curiosity, integrity, and others. Some of these attributes may be self-assessed through student surveys offered by most districts.

There are many survey tools available. In CA, the most popular include those of Scaling Student Success partner YouthTruth, as well as the CA Healthy Kids Survey, CORE Data Collaboratives social-emotional skills survey, and Panorama, among others. Each district would have to map the topics on those surveys with the outcomes articulated on their Graduate Profile to determine which standard set of questions aligns best. That said, ideally, a provider would help a district customize survey questions to cater specifically to the outcomes on the Graduate Profile in order to regularly gather data that helps students, families, and educators determine the degree to which a student is able to exhibit progress toward a descriptive standard for each outcome.

If and when student survey data is triangulated with peer, family and teacher surveys, we can get a more well-rounded view of a student’s demonstration of a particular Graduate Profile attribute, disposition, or mindset. Survey data can also be supplemented by observational data of a student’s behavior and language. While not yet developed, there could be a phone app that would allow family members, friends, neighbors, coaches, workplace supervisors, and other youth-serving professionals and community members to rate and comment on a student’s demonstration of Graduate Profile outcomes. See this blog post for further exploration of this idea.


Shift to a system of shared accountability that assures the district and community hold themselves collectively accountable for each and every student to develop and demonstrate the competencies articulated on the Graduate Profile

For a Graduate Profile to drive transformative change, the district and community must share accountability in a way that assures that each and every student has an equitable opportunity to both develop and demonstrate the competencies articulated on the Profile. Accountability may take several forms, both formal and informal.

Often, districts will begin by adding the Graduate Profile outcomes to student report cards, which (at minimum) calls attention to the outcomes to students, teachers, and parents several times per year. These ratings on report cards become more rigorous and meaningful when they are backed by a high quality system of performance assessment with teacher calibration around common rubrics. Shifting the nature of report cards and transcripts can be a powerful driver for change. In many ways, a high school transcript is the “currency of education.” If it is changed to reflect an updated set of desired student outcomes, we could see a domino effect of changes through the system. To explore further, see this blog post, entitled “It’s time to change the currency of education.”

A district can demonstrate its seriousness by incorporating its Graduate Profile as a key component of its Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), setting goals, listing associated actions and metrics, and allocating resources to several of the components of Profile operationalization described throughout this blueprint.

To hold teachers, administrators, and other staff accountable, a district and its unions can agree on processes to incorporate attention to the Graduate Profile into staff goal setting, peer reviews, walkthroughs, professional development, and formal performance evaluation processes. The Graduate Profile also can be incorporated into hiring practices by referencing it in job descriptions, making it the topic of interview questions, and/or asking prospective teachers to teach a sample lesson focused (in part, at least) on promoting Graduate Profile outcomes.

The district can incorporate Graduate Profile related data indicators into its regular process of data collection, analysis, and reporting. Of course, having the data is only valuable if district and community stakeholders interrogate the data and use the findings to make decisions and inform continuous improvement. When examining data, it’s important not only to use (what Safir & Dugan refer to) “satellite” and “map” data, but also “street data” — the qualitative, asset-based and experiential data that emerges at eye level and on lower frequencies, building on the tenets of culturally responsive education by helping educators look for what’s right in our students, schools, and communities.

Leaders can promote accountability by using the Graduate Profile as a North Star to align not only the LCAP, but also the strategic plan, single plans for school improvement, WASC schoolwide learner outcomes, and other guiding documents.

Finally, school boards can request that district leaders offer regular updates on their process and progress to breathe life into the Graduate Profile. Keeping it on the front burner of board meetings will raise awareness of community members, prioritize the Profile’s central role and value in preparing young people, and hold district leaders accountable for supporting the various facets of actualizing the Profile.


In California, engaging community stakeholders to craft a Graduate Profile began with ConnectED: The National Center for College and Career in the early 2010’s when generous funding from the James Irvine Foundation enabled the CA-based technical assistance provider to direct the CA Linked Learning District Initiative. Following the lead of Edwin Diaz, former Superintendent of Pasadena USD, ConnectED supported all nine medium and large districts participating in the initiative to create Graduate Profiles. As ConnectED expanded across CA and the nation, creating a Graduate Profile became the standard starting point for systemic transformation work. And, a movement began.

For those inexperienced with college and career pathways, or Linked Learning, it’s a comprehensive systemic reform strategy that incorporates many of the Graduate Profile implementation strategies described in this blueprint. Schools are organized around a handful of career-themed pathways, such as engineering, digital media, health, and law and justice. Several hundred students move as a cohort through their academic and technical courses during a four-year program of study, which is supplemented by work-based learning (WBL) experiences and student supports necessary to foster success. A cross-disciplinary team of teachers collaborate to design and facilitate projects aligned with the pathway theme. Business, industry, and community partners support teachers and students by offering WBL experiences and serving on an advisory board. Students are motivated by the relevance of their program offerings as they prepare simultaneously for both college and career.

Over time, pioneering districts (Long Beach, Oakland, Pasadena, Porterville, Sacramento, West Contra Costa, and others) expanded the number of college and career pathways and academies. Porterville Unified offers 14 open choice pathways across five high schools serving about three-quarters of their students. They have invested heavily in WBL and one-on-one internships for all students to develop and demonstrate competencies articulated on the PUSD Graduate Profile. Long Beach Unified has gone to “wall-to-wall” pathways across all of its high schools, embedding student projects and WBL into the student experience to actualize the LB College & Career Graduate Profile in order to achieve their goal to “transform the diploma from a certificate of completion to a ‘Passport to Opportunity’.”

ConnectED supported all districts in the initiative through a process of rolling out high quality pathways, the mechanism by which districts operationalized their Graduate Profiles. Often, pathways crafted specialized versions of the Graduate Profile catered to the career theme. They benchmarked the outcomes, created or adopted rubrics against which to assess student progress, designed cross-disciplinary real-world projects that embed performance tasks for students to practice the outcomes, and assessed student progress using both formative and summative forms of performance assessment.

Cohorting students into smaller learning communities for four years, supported by a core team of teachers who come to know each and every student well over the course of the pathway program creates a positive environment for addressing students’ social and emotional needs — i.e., trusting relationships, sense of belonging, and safe and supportive classroom environments. Very often pathway students and teachers describe the pathway as a family. Like other schools and programs, college and career pathways still must overcome long-standing inequities. However, the close-knit pathway community creates a safe environment for key stakeholders to challenge their assumptions, surface inherent biases, and adapt structures and processes that value differences and honor identities in ways that are culturally and linguistically sustaining.

To learn more about Linked Learning, visit ConnectED: The National Center for College and Career.

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