The opportunity in California
California is the largest and most diverse state in the nation. That alone makes defining student success and/or creating a Graduate Profile a daunting challenge. That said, back in 2012, when ConnectED was serving as a California hub for promoting college and career pathways, they partnered with WestEd to do a field analysis and draft a research-based report, called “College and Career Readiness: What Does It Mean?” That was a good start, and since then the State Board has done much to better incorporate measures of college and career readiness into the state’s reporting system. Moving forward, the state of California could blend prior efforts and create an updated definition.
A novel approach
But, there is another, perhaps better, option — one that values and leverages the experiences of local school districts. Lacking a state definition for college-, career-, and civic-readiness, a growing number of CA school districts have engaged their local communities to create their own Graduate Profiles to more broadly define student success based on their local values, priorities, and circumstances. A new CA partnership, called Scaling Student Success, has formed a community of practice among those school districts. Rather than just hanging their Graduate Profiles on the walls as aspirational posters, Scaling Student Success districts are fully committed to moving “from poster to practice” – i.e., fully operationalizing the Profiles in a way that holds the district and community collectively accountable for ensuring that each and every student has an equitable opportunity to develop and demonstrate the competencies articulated on the Graduate Profile.
In 2013-14, California enacted the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), funding schools based on need and prioritizing local control as a driving force for continuous improvement and accountability. Local control has been embraced by the State Board of Education, Department of Education, and local school boards. As a grassroots approach that honors the spirit of LCFF, state leaders could (1) gather Graduate Profiles from districts around the state, (2) complete an analysis of common features, and (3) use those cross-district, cross-community results to inform a statewide definition of the future-ready student and/or create a CA Graduate Profile that would incentivize local efforts.