The new accountability system targeted traditional academic achievement indicators — i.e., graduation rates, standardized test scores, attendance, suspensions. Even prior to the pandemic, local education agencies (LEAs) realized that, while traditional measures of academic success are necessary, they are not sufficient drivers for schools to attend to the whole child needs of their students.
Recently, with leadership from SBE President Linda Darling-Hammond, the Governor, and the legislature, the state has embraced the need for investing in whole child approaches that facilitate equitable student success. That shift has been supported by an unprecedented surge in state funding for education, allowing the state to invest billions of dollars in whole child strategies, such as community schools, expanded learning, early childhood education, mental health, college and career pathways, and more.
The challenge is that, because these funding levels are not expected to be sustained, the Governor, SBE, and legislature have approved huge one-time investments that are being doled out in a way that risks a regression to an old way of administering programs in a siloed fashion.
For that reason it’s essential that local education agencies (LEAs) create a whole child vision for student success.
In recent years, several leading national educational organizations have put forth reports recommending that states and LEAs convene their community partners to develop a “graduate profile” or “portrait of a graduate” to more holistically and equitably define student success. For examples, see reports from the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development and the Aurora Institute.
When school districts have a Graduate Profile as a North Star, it becomes much easier to build coherence around a whole child vision and assure that programs are implemented in a way that reinforces best practice and leads to desired outcomes for young people.
Leaders across the state agree! Below, two leaders in the implementation of the largest state investments share how and why developing a whole child vision (or Graduate Profile) informs and accelerates best practice.