An Opportunity to Prepare All Students for Lifelong Success

A Graduate Profile (or a Portrait of a Graduate) is a result of a community-wide engagement process that answers the question: what skills and competencies do we believe our students need to be ready for future success? In essence, a Graduate Profile can be considered a contract between the school district, its students, and the community to do everything within its means to foster the learning outcomes that prepare students for future success, and hold themselves collectively accountable for the results.

A high school girl looking up while writing at her desk

Graduate Profiles are developed by school districts in partnership with their local community, so no two are exactly alike. But they often include a combination of:

  • Academic knowledge (such as math and reading proficiency)
  • Workforce and career readiness skills (such as teamwork, communication, and innovation)
  • Social-emotional skills (such as adaptability and resilience)
  • Civic engagement (a demonstration of contribution to the local community)
A high school girl looking up while writing at her desk

An Opportunity to Prepare All Students for Lifelong Success

A Graduate Profile (or a Portrait of a Graduate) is a result of a community-wide engagement process that answers the question: what skills and competencies do we believe our students need to be ready for future success? In essence, a Graduate Profile can be considered a contract between the school district, its students, and the community to do everything within its means to foster the learning outcomes that prepare students for future success, and hold themselves collectively accountable for the results.

Graduate Profiles are developed by school districts in partnership with their local community, so no two are exactly alike. But they often include a combination of:

  • Academic knowledge (such as math and reading proficiency)
  • Workforce and career readiness skills (such as teamwork, communication, and innovation)
  • Social-emotional skills (such as adaptability and resilience)
  • Civic engagement (a demonstration of contribution to the local community)

Graduate Profiles can serve multiple functions for schools and communities

For communities that implement a Graduate Profile, it becomes a vital foundation to shift instructional practices to engage students in deeper learning. Graduate Profiles can help align programs and investments, serving simultaneously as a:

Stars in the sky at night

North Star

A guiding light that sets our course or direction

Girls playing soccer

Goal post

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

A boat anchor on a wooden dock

Anchor

To keep focused on what’s most important and valued, and prevent from drifting astray

A large train station terminal dimly lit with only a few people on the platform

Central Station

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

A high school girl using a measuring table while building a boat

Graduate Profiles build coherence while promoting local control

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 college, careers, and civic engagement. The mix of initiatives implemented have focused on several interrelated areas of growth, and have led to valuable lessons learned, built organizational capacity, and improved student outcomes.

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

The process of creating and implementing Graduate Profiles can be the driver to shift the purpose of education, building a strategy for educational transformation that truly promotes:

  • Equity – Prioritizing the skills and competencies each child needs to reach their potential, while affirming their linguistic and cultural identities as assets
  • Student agency – Giving students a voice and a choice to pursue their interests
  • Whole-child education – Developing academic, career, and life skills side by side to promote lifelong success
  • Local control – Addressing local priorities and values and engaging local community members in the process of envisioning student success
  • Coherence – Establishing an overarching framework within which to implement multiple initiatives and programs
Two middle school girls smiling at their classroom table

A Blueprint for California Schools

Done well, operationalizing a Graduate Profile takes years. It represents a substantial investment of time and resources. And while there is no one right way to approach it, there are widely accepted, research-based design principles and promising practices practitioners can use as they move through the process.

Our Blueprint is intended to offer a menu of critical components required to bring a Graduate Profile to life. The sequence, timeline, and process for addressing them depends on local conditions. The resources and tools identified are intended to leverage the expertise of our Scaling Student Success partners and best practices from the field.

Graduate Profiles Across California and the United States

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California School Districts

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U. S. States

Dozens of California school districts and 15 U.S. states have developed Graduate Profiles. Click on any region or state with a black asterisk (*), and then, click on the name of the district or state to see the actual Profile. Or, quickly access a list of Profiles by clicking on the links below:

  • List of California regions…
  • List of U.S. states…

Shasta Cascades

Sierra Nevada

Image Credits

The United States Map is by Matt Cole on Vecteezy.

Transform education to bolster student success

Raise the aspirations of our education system and the expectations and capacity of local communities to prepare each and every young person for future success.

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