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February 22, 2019

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The Graduate Profile as True North

Every school system shares the aspiration that all students have an educational experience that prepares them to be effective lifelong learners and contributors.
In the age of accountability, contemporary society places great value on standardized achievement tests to sift and sort people; to evaluate schools; and to assess the performance of nations. Yet standardized achievement tests are only a snapshot in the portfolio of a student's knowledge, skills, habits and attitudes.
"Achievement tests miss, or more accurately, do not adequately capture, soft skills-personality traits, goals, motivations, and preferences that are valued in the labor market, in school, and in many other domains. Soft skills predict success in life, and programs that enhance soft skills have an important place in an effective portfolio of public policies."[1]
Ken Kay, CEO of EdLeader 21,  recommends that every key stakeholder in the community engage in a process of identifying 'the graduate profile,' the competencies our graduates need to face the challenges of 21st century life, work and citizenship. "Unlike a mission or vision statement, a graduate profile is a document that a school or district uses to specify the cognitive, personal, and interpersonal [soft skill] competencies that students should have when they graduate. Co-created with input from key stakeholders, this profile is a clear visualization of priority goals for teaching and learning that can be easily communicated to students, parents, faculty, and staff to align their collective efforts. Until you identify and prioritize these competencies for your school or district, you won't have a shared vision of your destination."
Districts that have engaged in this initiative have discovered many ways to use the graduate profile as a lever for transformative change. The profile not only establishes agreed-upon goals and norms of students' learning, but can also be used to transform the people, systems, structures, and processes that support student learning throughout a school or district.

[1] Heckman, James J. & Kautz, Tim, 2012. Hard Evidence on Soft Skills, National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No.18121
About the Partnership Long Header
The Stark Education Partnership - a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in Stark County, Ohio -  is a catalyst, engaging and collaborating with education, business, civic and community stakeholders to drive sustainable improvement and innovation to provide all students with education and career success.  

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