So You Designed a Profile of a Graduate, Now What?

Key Points

  • Your district, with community input and participation, has recently completed your Profile of a Graduate, (sometimes also known as a Graduate Profile or Learner Profile) now what? 

  • The act of creating a shared vision for graduates serves as a starting point to define a learner-centered system.

Learner Centered Collaborative

Your district, with community input and participation, has recently completed your Profile of a Graduate, (sometimes also known as a Graduate Profile or Learner Profile) now what? The ‘now what’ question is essential. If this is not acted upon, then it will join other missed opportunities like mission statements that collect dust. The act of creating a shared vision for graduates serves as a starting point to define a learner-centered system. This is the North Star and sets the future aspiration for the work ahead.

The first step is to co-author a shared vision for graduates with your community stakeholders. From there, we recommend the following considerations as a way to make your vision a reality.  

Review and share out the Profile of a Graduate (POG) with the community at large and share that you will be setting a course to achieve this goal.

  • Share that you will update them on growth and next steps.
  • Plan on stakeholder events as ways to share and gather information and feedback.
  • Work with a communications team or department to make the POG accessible and on the website.
  • Share in the ownership of this work and enlist a team approach with distributive leadership.

Change Management. The learning culture of an organization has always been extremely important, but it is more critical than ever for our communities and districts. This work is at the forefront to build readiness for change and is a continuous process to revisit as opportunities for growth arise.

  • Driving from your collective commitment to understanding change, design intentional feedback loops and transparent pathways for stakeholders to learn, engage, and co-design.
  • Be clear and transparent with leadership teams to lead with their values, and to actively use these values and outcomes to make decisions, and create the conditions in which they can succeed.
  • Setting the culture for change and growth is essential. Lead with mindset and dispositions toward transformation and lay the groundwork for the path ahead. See toolkit for teachers.

Define success metrics that align with desired outcomes in your profile of a graduate. Review, revise, refine your data collection. Define an aligned assessment platform that supports growth and deeper learning. This will lead to cleaner data collection protocols.

  • Create student, educator, and community surveys that gather input on experiences aligned with your POG.
  • Create expectations for student learning exhibitions and demonstrations of learning to show their growth in the desired outcomes. This is true for all learners.
  • Ensure that the report cards or other reporting mechanisms include metrics that align with your POG in addition to grades or standards reporting. This may require you to seek out other learning management tools to meet this need.
  • Set goals and track leading measures such as student progress, school attendance, discipline referrals, and enrollment.
  • Design aligned performance assessments that will help build an assessment model.

Use your POG as a north star to guide your strategic plan. Your POG needs to be visible and used to guide your strategic priorities and what is no longer needed.

Design or revise your learning model. Is there a clear vision for what learning experiences students should be engaged in that align with your desired outcomes? Do your resources, guides and schedules reflect the learning that you aspire to see in all classrooms? Where is the learning model meeting the need and where is it falling short? Instructional models are most effective when this is co-created or codesigned with a mix of stakeholders.

  • Refine your teaching and learning model. After instructional needs have been determined, align these with professional learning, coaching, and evaluation.
  • Codesign opportunities to help educators create experiences aligned with your learning model. This will be an iterative process as related needs are revealed when refining instructional practices.
  • Review effective strategies in place, highlight them and support teachers to use them.
  • Build off of strengths and strong instructional practices already in place.
  • Review induction and evaluation to make space for educators to try new strategies and evolve their practices.

This is the North Star and sets the future aspiration for the work ahead.

Rebecca Midles and Katie Martin

Create transparent look fors across learning levels. These can be referred to as progressions, or rubrics – essentially competencies – that help guide a system to vertically plan for the acquisition of desired knowledge, skills, and mindsets to be supported for learners across the system. Representation of learning needs from across the system should be at the heart of this work.

  • Make the profile accessible and clear for grade levels or grade bands.
  • Use co-designed look fors to highlight what is work and aspirations, not just checklist
  • Reflective questions on process alongside look fors invite teachers to self-reflect and assess their strengths and their needs for professional learning.
  • Empower students to self-assess and capture evidence of their learning, growth, and next steps.

Build a professional learning system that aligns with your desired outcomes to validate what is working and support new areas of growth and expectations. This is most effective with representation from educators who are fluent in working with learners of varying levels and backgrounds.

  • Engage with teachers to design educator competencies that support the learning model that will help achieve the graduate profile.
  • Create personalized learning pathways with and for teachers to understand where they are and learn based on their needs, context, and goals. Consider micro-credentialing teachers as they develop competency in desired areas.
  • Consider hiring instructional coaches that are either trained or will be trained to coach, advise and support educators.
  • Ensure professional learning time that is consistent and agile to respond to the needs of the system as it grows. This requires additional time that is embedded into the system for teachers to meet, share, collaborate and grow their practice.
  • The system could invest in learning communities across their system for leaders, related providers, paraprofessionals, and other related staff members that serve student learning.

Demonstrate and highlight examples. You may be able to go see aligned instructional practices in action that are outside of your district, and we recommend this! As soon as you can set up local examples, do. These opportunities will support understanding and professional growth.

  • Set up opportunities for peers to observe one another. These classrooms can be referred to as demonstration classrooms or sites, that are simply demonstrating where they are in the journey to meeting a shared vision for graduates.
  • Give careful consideration to framing observations and practices for professional growth. Not all observations provide examples where everything is aligned.
  • Treasure systems and teachers who are open to sharing their practices, receiving feedback, and collaborating. This commitment is how networks are started.

Celebrate and share learning to scale at each step of the journey

As we work with systems leaders to align their aspirations of what we really want school to be with daily practices, it can be also overwhelming to think about so many things that need to shift. As you continue to grow and evolve, it is critical that you make time to acknowledge what’s working and build from where you are. When you are meeting with students, families, or colleagues, try to identify progress, growth, and positives for your team and others so we can all learn and grow along with you.

Need more? Or did you start the process and have since found your team needing additional support? Getting Smart and Learner Centered Collaborative have worked together to support several districts in creating, updating, and implementing their POG. We’d love to support your team as you start your journey. Email Jessica to learn more.


The #NewPathways campaign will serve as a road map to the new architecture for American High Schools, where every learner, regardless of zip code, is on a pathway to productive and sustainable citizenship, high wage employment and economic mobility. Interested in telling your future of high school story? Email Editor.

Rebecca Midles

Rebecca Midles

Rebecca Midles is the Vice President of Learning Design at Getting Smart and is an innovator in competency education and personalized learning with over twenty years of experience as teacher, administrator, board member, consultant and parent.

Katie Martin

Dr. Katie Martin is the author of Learner-Centered Innovation and Evolving Education and serves as the Chief Impact Officer of Learning at Learner-Centered Collaborative. She teaches in the graduate school of Education at High Tech High and is on the board of Real World Scholars. Dr. Martin has worked in diverse contexts to learn, research, and support deeper learning for all students. She has served as a middle school English language arts teacher, instructional coach, and led the district’s new teacher mentoring program.

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