May 15, 2019

Re-defining the Portrait of a Future-ready Graduate


Iowa ASCD Member Andrea Stewart, Director of The Center and Consultant for TLC and Student Engagement  shares her definition of a "future-ready graduate." Teh Center- Collaboratively Building Iowa's Learner-centered Future logo

As we move into an era where technology is rapidly automating jobs and careers that haven't existed before now are developing at an exponential rate in response to changing demographics and a hyper-connected world, it is our moral imperative to ensure that our graduates are not just walking across our stages, but are future-ready like never before.

What does "future-ready" mean?

Future-ready is a preparedness that includes sets of knowledge, skills, and dispositions that will help our young people prepare to be nimble in an unpredictable future. You have probably heard of STEM (integrated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and coding, but how about SMAC (social, mobile, analytics, and cloud) literacy ( Educators across Iowa (and throughout the nation) are re-imagining how to drive learning through opportunities for our young people to develop these skills and the critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and entrepreneurship, interdisciplinary and global knowledge, and cultural competence to collaborate across barriers and continents. "Future-ready" means being growth-oriented and ready to design pathways to attain economic viability, civic connectedness, and personal fulfillment. "Future-ready" must begin now.
The Center is supporting districts and postsecondary institutions with this important work by partnering with AEA Postsecondary Readiness & Equity Partnership (AEA PREP) to launch the Portrait of a Graduate initiative across Iowa. This nationwide effort was supported by EdLeader21--A Network for Battelle for Kids --before they opened their resources for all systems to dive into this design process locally.  
The Center and AEA PREP have added the fifth phase, "Measure", in order to ensure organizations have a way to measure and report progress toward the development of these future-ready graduates. All five phases are a partnership between learning organizations and their communities through the collaboration and leadership of an integrated design team that studies the local, national, and international learning, earning, and living environments to make recommendations to stakeholders (students, teachers, administrators, parents, community members, social services agencies, business leaders, institutions of higher education) for a set of adaptive competencies that will be valuable five and ten years from now. Through feedback and redesign, the team refines their recommendations until they have both consensus on the competencies and a visual to represent this new north star.

The Portrait of a Graduate

Though many districts across Iowa are engaging in this design process, you can currently see Cedar Rapids Community School District's and Van Meter Community School District's portraits on the Portrait of a Graduate Resource Hub. The power in the work is in this collaborative design process but also in the school improvement planning that the design team creates to backmap the Portrait into how we do the business of learning within and beyond the school, where the Portrait becomes both a shared vision and a graduate dashboard.
The Portrait of a Graduate is the right work, right now. To create future-ready learners in a Future Ready Iowa we

  • are supporting the development of a Portrait of a Graduate in schools and communities,
  • will help organizations create an action plan for making their Portrait a reality, and
  • will co-design ways to measure outcomes in all four of Iowa's College- and Career-ready Outcome Categories (Essential Content Knowledge, Practical Transition Skills, Key Learning Skills and Cognitive Strategies, and Self-understanding and Engagement Strategies).

This blog was reprinted with permission from The Center. Interested in joining the movement and springboarding transformation in your context? The Center and AEA PREP'sLeadership Councils are currently in training to support this work statewide, ranging from co-planning to co-delivering the process from planning to measuring progress. Contact Andrea Stewart, Director of The Center, to get connected with support in your region and to launch today!

Category: The Linker