Widely adopted by school districts, the Portrait of a Graduate defines and shares the dispositions and abilities that a community believes will lead to students’ well-being, fulfillment, and economic security. We found that school districts across the nation have typically identified six common attributes that students should embody and exemplify by graduation.
The Portrait of a Graduate is compelling because these attributes, such as “creating to solve and share,” are broad and crosscutting, which builds connection and buy-in across school communities. However, this breadth also makes a Portrait challenging to operationalize. The identified attributes are universal, but they can only be seen or acted on in context. How can we connect Portraits to pedagogy and curricula so that each attribute is actionable, visible, and explicit?
Digital Promise has designed learning pathways to explicitly connect classroom learning to cross-cutting initiatives. These pathways articulate system-wide, K-12 learning opportunities that are consistent across classrooms, cumulative from year to year, and competency-based. We have partnered with school districts across the nation to design and implement Learning Pathways for Computational Thinking. We facilitate the collective expertise of district leaders, school leaders, and teachers to break down broad attributes into actionable practices and identify relevant learning opportunities in each grade band. Our Learning Pathways design process is described below.
Overall, this process allows districts to identify priority focus areas, practices, and skill progressions that make portrait domains visible for teachers and learners, and allow identification of specific integration points in curriculum. As a result, districts design learning pathways in ways that are aligned with their internal initiatives and vision in order to develop student dispositions and career connections that will better position learners for well-being, fulfillment, and economic security.
Expanding from our work with districts designing Computational Thinking Pathways, Digital Promise is developing processes, practices, and resources for school districts to design integrated, competency-based, learning pathways that align with the full Portrait of a Graduate. Over the next several months, we will share more of what we have learned about the Graduate Portrait, our emerging research and development into best practices to make these portraits more actionable, and opportunities to partner with us so we can continue to learn from each other.
To receive timely updates on this work please subscribe to our Action Report newsletter.