Getting to the Root of the “Why” with a Profile of a Graduate

Topics: Education Policy, ESSA

A profile of a graduate helps the community, district, school, and teacher get to the root of the "why." Recently our partner, EdLeader 21 launched an initiative focused on districts creating a profile of a graduate. Their goal is to have 1000 districts develop and ratify their district’s profile of a graduate by June 2019. This is a big goal. The campaign will specifically focus on the following:

The EdLeader21 Profile of a Graduate campaign seeks to energize communities of educators, students and parents around a 21st century definition of student success. The campaign’s intent is to establish deep and broad support in at least 1,000 communities for teaching and learning practices that support student mastery of the 4Cs [critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity]. More specifically, we aim to:

  • Inform the education field about why it is important for schools and districts to adopt a profile of a graduate.
  • Provide tools and resources that support schools and districts in this process.
  • Generate grassroots support for the development of profiles of graduates from a broad range of stakeholders including students, parents, teachers, community members, etc.
  • Give high-profile visibility to schools and districts that have already adopted a profile of a graduate.
  • Make an important contribution to the field of education.
  • Improve collaboration among educators and supportive organizations and leaders in the field of 21st century education.

The campaign is spot on, important and is bold in its reach and goals. Beyond that, I see it being a catalyst and codifier on the policy front as well.

Many states are moving towards more personalized and competency-based systems. States such as New Hampshire and Maine are further along in those endeavors as they are moving statewide pilots towards a state mandated proficiency-based graduation requirement. Other states are focused on implementing pilots like North Dakota, Utah, Ohio or Idaho. Other states, like Maryland and Tennessee, are looking to begin their implementation using their state ESSA plan as the catalyst.

I believe that the profile of a graduate could play a codifying role for both states and districts. If I were a state chief, I’d require that a district that was applying to pilot a personalized or competency-based approach has a profile of a graduate. A profile of a graduate helps the community, district, school and teacher get to the root of the “why.” Why are we shifting our approach to teaching and learning? Why are we shifting our expectations of our students? Why are we creating new and differentiated opportunities for all students?

It’s because we want our children to be prepared for an ever-changing, complex and interconnected world. The world today demands an innovative approach to education that must be undergirded by what we want to see in our future graduates. We must deeply understand and internalize the “why” behind the “what” and the “how” of personalizing education. A profile of a graduate is that “why,” it is the foundation for transforming the education system. I applaud EdLeader21 for leading the charge and I’m proud to call them friends and partners.

Check out all the tools and resources at