As a Partnership…

Our balanced strategy leads with equity- and research-based practices in local communities. Participating school districts co-design and co-lead a community of practice focused on continuous improvement. Our practice partners support educators to build the capacity of teachers and leaders, create an enabling culture for change, and put in place the structures and policies that promote sustainability. Research and policy partners help establish the political environment to advance, scale, and sustain efforts into the future.

Partnership Aims

Over the course of the next decade, this partnership aims to…

  1. Grow an ever-expanding community of practice among CA school districts and networks committed to operationalizing their Graduate Profiles as a strategy for transforming teaching and learning and holding all community stakeholders mutually accountable for a broader set of student learning outcomes
  2. Communicate stories about lessons learned, progress, and success of project participants in order to inspire more school districts to follow a similar path to more holistic and equitable student outcomes
  3. Pursue a research agenda that establishes a base of evidence to support partnership efforts and outcomes, including their implications for classroom practice, school redesign, district leadership, and state policy
  4. Identify and support policy shifts (local and state) that enable scaling and sustaining positive partnership outcomes
  5. Establish the necessary supports (i.e., tools, platforms, network of support providers) to facilitate continuous improvement of evidence-based educational practices in communities across the state
Scaling Student Success a California Partnership - Image Courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

Partnership Aims

Scaling Student Success a California Partnership - Image Courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

Over the course of the next decade, this partnership aims to…

  1. Grow an ever-expanding community of practice among CA school districts and networks committed to operationalizing their Graduate Profiles as a strategy for transforming teaching and learning and holding all community stakeholders mutually accountable for a broader set of student learning outcomes
  2. Communicate stories about lessons learned, progress, and success of project participants in order to inspire more school districts to follow a similar path to more holistic and equitable student outcomes
  3. Pursue a research agenda that establishes a base of evidence to support partnership efforts and outcomes, including their implications for classroom practice, school redesign, district leadership, and state policy
  4. Identify and support policy shifts (local and state) that enable scaling and sustaining positive partnership outcomes
  5. Establish the necessary supports (i.e., tools, platforms, network of support providers) to facilitate continuous improvement of evidence-based educational practices in communities across the state

Guiding Principles

Scaling Student Success a California Partnership - Image Courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

Partners and participants adhere to these principles:

  • Combat inequity.

    By centering students who have been marginalized as we scale high-quality implementation of evidence-based practices, support it through research, and sustain it through shifts in policy, we will narrow the opportunity and achievement gap and assure that all CA youth develop the skills, competencies, and mindsets necessary for future success.

  • Build from assets.

    By leveraging existing efforts of CA school districts and networks, support providers, funders, and state and national education reform initiatives, we will build on their successes in non-duplicative value-add ways, to advance a unifying vision and common agenda.

  • Be learners first.

    By remaining curious and inquisitive, and by actively listening and engaging, we strive to learn from related efforts in local communities, other states and countries, as well as service providers who have journeyed along a similar path.

  • Build trust.

    By recognizing that that all growth and learning is rooted in relational capital, we commit to building trust by being open, honest, empathetic, even vulnerable in our interactions in order to model a human-centered approach.

  • Honor context.

    By acknowledging that each individual, organization, and community operates in its own unique context (history, beliefs, values, politics, relationships, etc.), we accept that each will choose to proceed in a way that honors its context.

  • Model best practice.

    By recognizing that Graduate Profile outcomes represent not only what we foster for students in schools, but also for ourselves as adult learners, we will promote symmetrical student and adult learning by modeling empathy, inquiry, collaboration, engagement, and reflection.

  • Unify the field.

    By acting as a collaborative and responsive partnership, we will attempt to coalesce and focus the field and its collective vision for equitable access and opportunity and improved student learning outcomes.

Scaling Student Success a California Partnership - Image Courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

Theory of Change

  • Intentionally creating a school culture that nurtures the innate potential of each and every student to learn and develop
  • Expecting and supporting teachers to engage students in challenging project-based learning and other deeper learning pedagogical strategies
  • Building a system of performance assessment that routinizes regular opportunities for students to authentically demonstrate their competencies, skills, and mindsets
  • Engaging teachers in the design, piloting, scoring, and analyzing of performance tasks as a powerful job-embedded form of professional development
  • Modeling a culture of learning by being inclusive and collaborative, engaging in cycles of inquiry and feedback, using data to inform continuous improvement, encouraging innovation by experimenting with new approaches, and reflecting on practice
  • Drawing on multiple sources of information to monitor (a) the quality of students’ opportunities to learn, (b) the school environment that supports these learning experiences, and (c) access to equitable and adequate resources
  • Developing professional capacity to ensure that each and every student is served by well-prepared, competent, and compassionate teachers and leaders
  • Being transparent by communicating both internally and publicly its intentions, processes, and outcomes
  • Using the Graduate Profile as an organizing structure, whenever possible (i.e., Local Control Accountability Plan)
  • Reporting student progress on, and mastery of, Graduate Profile outcomes on report cards and transcripts, respectively
  • Students will honor their learning journey and graduate with confidence that they are well-prepared to succeed in college, career, and civic engagement
  • Schools will be propelled toward valuing deeper learning, the use of performance assessments, and a growth culture
  • Colleges and universities will use newly-available transcript information in their admissions and placement decisions
  • Shifts in local policy and practice will drive shifts in state policy, and
  • Positive, systemic change will scale and be sustained.
Scaling Student Success a California Partnership - Image Courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

Local Strategy

Leverage the Power and Potential of the Graduate Profile

At the local level, the partnership will support school districts to create Graduate Profiles as locally contextualized definitions of college and career readiness, and then to operationalize those Graduate Profiles as a means of holding themselves collectively accountable for assuring that students have equitable opportunities to pursue and demonstrate the outcomes articulated in their Graduate Profiles.

What is a Graduate Profile?

Generated through a community engagement process, a Graduate Profile defines for local stakeholders (educators, parents, business partners, community and civic leaders) what it means for a student to be ready for future success. It typically consists of a limited number of succinct statements that reflect a combination of knowledge, skills, competencies, and qualities. Examples of Graduate Profiles can be found in this Gallery. While every district’s Graduate Profile is different, the majority include a combination of the following student learning outcomes:

  • Academic preparation, typically a demonstration of content mastery
  • 21st Century skills, which often include the 4C’s (collaboration and teamwork, critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and innovation, and communication)
  • Social-emotional learning outcomes, which may include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, responsible decision-making, adaptability and flexibility, resiliency, growth mindset, empathy, etc.
  • Civic engagement, typically a demonstration of contribution to the local community
Scaling Student Success a California Partnership - Image Courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action
Scaling Student Success a California Partnership - Image Courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

What is a Graduate Profile?

Generated through a community engagement process, a Graduate Profile defines for local stakeholders (educators, parents, business partners, community and civic leaders) what it means for a student to be ready for future success. It typically consists of a limited number of succinct statements that reflect a combination of knowledge, skills, competencies, and qualities. Examples of Graduate Profiles can be found in this Gallery. While every district’s Graduate Profile is different, the majority include a combination of the following student learning outcomes:

  • Academic preparation, typically a demonstration of content mastery
  • 21st Century skills, which often include the 4C’s (collaboration and teamwork, critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and innovation, and communication)
  • Social-emotional learning outcomes, which may include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, responsible decision-making, adaptability and flexibility, resiliency, growth mindset, empathy, etc.
  • Civic engagement, typically a demonstration of contribution to the local community

Communities that develop a Graduate Profile consider it to serve as either the:

Scaling Student Success a California Partnership - Photo by Mitchell Maglio on Unsplash

North Star

A guiding light that sets our course or direction

Scaling Student Success a California Partnership - Photo by Jeffrey F Lin on Unsplash

Goal post

A target to advance toward play by play, pass by pass (or unit by unit, project by project)

Anchor: Scaling Student Success a California Partnership - Photo by Oscar Helgstrand on Unsplash

Anchor

Keeps us grounded, focused on what we value most; prevents us from drifting astray

Scaling Student Success a California Partnership - Photo by ViniLowRaw on Unsplash

Central Station

A place to which all tracks lead and all passengers and trains are destined

Advancing from Good Intentions to Shared Accountability

Scaling Student Success a California Partnership - Image Courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

Creating a Graduate Profile is a critical first step that lays a foundation for achieving improved and equitable outcomes for students. It offers a renewed vision and definition of the college and career-ready student, serves as an impetus for shifting instructional practices and engaging students in deeper learning, and requires a shift in assessments that provide students authentic ways to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Perhaps most important, when school boards and community groups endorse the Graduate Profile, they imply the intent to hold themselves collectively accountable for a broader set of student learning outcomes. In essence, a Graduate Profile could be conceived as a contract between the school district, its students, and the community – i.e., a promise by the school district to do everything within its means to foster the learning outcomes that prepare students for future success, as defined by the local community.

What does it mean to hold ourselves collectively accountable? Are all students, regardless of background, able to demonstrate competency for each of the outcomes articulated in the Graduate Profile? How do we know? How will we assess student progress and competency, collect data, and document and report those outcomes to students, parents, prospective employers, and institutions of higher education? For example, will we include student progress on report cards and include graduates’ competencies on transcripts? Will we include growth on Graduate Profile outcomes as a goal in our Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP)? What roles are teachers, administrators, parents, and community partners expected to play to support student progress on and demonstration of the outcomes? How will we support these individuals and hold them accountable for promoting attainment of student outcomes? What structures and processes are in place (or must be created or adapted) to hold the district and school board accountable for the outcomes articulated in the Graduate Profile?

The power and potential of operationalizing a Graduate Profile is palpable, but building teacher capacity to design and facilitate high-quality project-based learning, performance tasks, and other approaches to powerful learning, teaching, and assessment requires substantial investment, not to mention teachers’ will, school leaders’ support, and enabling conditions and organizational culture.

Scaling Student Success a California Partnership - Image Courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

Operationalizing the Graduate Profile

School districts and networks participating in Scaling Student Success will be supported to move through a process that effectively operationalizes a Graduate Profile to assure a sense of shared accountability around students demonstrating progress toward, and mastery of, the articulated student learning outcomes. Specifically, each district or network would move through the following phases of development (to be refined in collaboration with the community of practice and described in a Blueprint document):

  • Phase 1: Develop a community-informed Graduate Profile (if not already completed)
  • Phase 2: Establish K-12 benchmarks for each Graduate Profile outcome
  • Phase 3: Adopt and/or adapt common rubrics against which to assess student progress/competency
  • Phase 4: Design and implement a system of performance assessment to regularly provide authentic ways for students to demonstrate their competency in the Graduate Profile outcomes
  • Phase 5: Put in place multiple features of a system of shared accountability, including data systems, locally-controlled reporting mechanisms, professional capacity, organizational culture, and more
Graduate Profile Phases of Development and Operationalization - Scaling Student Success a California Partnership

Breaking it Down

Done well, operationalizing a Graduate Profile takes years. It represents a substantial investment of time and resources. That said, there are many potential ways to break it down and make it manageable. Below are some potential starting points that will allow the district to act strategically, while being systemic and focused. By starting small, the district can learn from early experimentation, build teacher and leader capacity, shift mindsets, assure necessary conditions, and adapt a growth culture:

  • By outcome. Pilot project-based learning, performance assessment, and rubric use for a single student learning outcome articulated in the Graduate Profile. Example: Use of a common rubric for collaboration or writing across all discipline areas and grade levels.
  • By discipline. Pilot project-based learning, performance assessment, and rubric use in a single discipline. Examples: Use of a common writing rubric in English lessons/courses, a common investigation rubric in science, or a common research rubric in history.
  • By grade level(s). Pilot project-based learning, performance assessment, and rubric use with a limited grade span. Example: Start with grades K-2 or a senior project.
  • By school(s). Pilot project-based learning, performance assessment, and rubric use in one or more small, nimble schools with strong leadership.
  • By pathway or program. Pilot project-based learning, performance assessment, and rubric use in one or more pathways or programs within a school. Example: Start with a mature health pathway at the high school or an AVID program.
Scaling Student Success a California Partnership - Image Courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

While full operationalization will take substantial time and resources, many would agree that the rewards (in terms of improved student outcomes) outweigh the costs. We should ask ourselves: Can we afford not to do it? Will our students be prepared adequately for future success if we do not?

Scaling Student Success a California Partnership - Image Courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

Moving from Initiative Fatigue to Alignment and Coherence

Over the past several decades, California school districts have made great strides to respond to the growing societal need to better prepare CA youth for success in college, careers, and civic engagement. Collectively, the mix of initiatives have focused on several interrelated areas of growth. Without doubt, these efforts have led to valuable lessons learned, built organizational capacity, and improved student outcomes. Indeed, they inform the way forward.

While we certainly have much to celebrate, the sheer number of initiatives can feel overwhelming and lead to fatigue. Trying to manage efforts that sometimes seem to be at odds with one another can leave districts scrambling to find a coherent strategy for educational transformation.

There is a compelling case for the Graduate Profile to serve as the organizing structure for a coherent strategy for educational transformation because, unlike several other potential organizing structures, a Graduate Profile is:

  • Student-centered – focused on competencies that advance student readiness for college and career
  • Outcome-based – focused on student learning outcomes that, in turn, can inform an appropriate and aligned set of inputs
  • Locally-defined – addresses local needs and context, fulfilling the spirit of the “California Way” that prioritizes local control

How aligned are our current initiatives with the Graduate Profile? In other words, which of our current initiatives directly or indirectly serve to advance students toward demonstration of the outcomes articulated in our Graduate Profile? Which initiatives lie outside those parameters? How can we use the Graduate Profile to align efforts and improve coherence?

State Strategy

Unify the Field and Establish Conditions to Support Local Efforts
Scaling Student Success a California Partnership - Image Courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

In order to optimize the successes of past and current initiatives to transform education, Scaling Student Success will:

  • Help unite the field to establish a unifying vision and common agenda for student success
  • Leverage strengths of past/current initiatives, their respective lessons learned and benefits
  • Identify gaps in service, whether in geographic regions, areas of focus, or other dimensions
  • Curate tools and broker services from leading service providers to participating school districts
  • Provide an adaptive blueprint for districts to operationalize their Graduate Profiles as a means of advancing toward more equitable opportunities and improved outcomes for all students
  • Convene leaders within and across stakeholder groups to reflect, plan and act
  • Push on policy levers that will help to scale and sustain promising practices focused on college and career readiness demonstrated around the state
  • Convene funders to secure resources to support partnership development and activities

Transform education to bolster student success

Raise the aspirations of our education system and the expectations and capacity of local communities to prepare all youth, no matter their background, for future success in college, career, and civic engagement.

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Scaling Student Success a California Partnership - Image Courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

Scaling Student Success is a project of Community Partners, a nonprofit charity exempt from Federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code. Checks should be made payable to: Community Partners for Scaling Student Success. Your donation is only tax deductible if made to Community Partners, our fiscal sponsor and the tax-exempt entity.