Today I had the opportunity to work with an amazing administrative team in the Del Norte School District on the northern coast in California. We were discussing the best entry points to teach high school staff about the importance of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and providing all students with opportunities to become expert learners. 

We had an a-ha moment (think – fireworks in the brain!) and decided that a great place to start is the profile of a graduate. Sometimes called a portrait of a graduate or a vision of a graduate, “a graduate profile is a document that a school or district uses to specify the cognitive, personal, and interpersonal competencies that students should have when they graduate” (Kay, 2017). Graduate profiles are becoming a critical tool in many schools and districts. 

As one example of how mainstream these profiles have become, all high schools in New England are required to have “a written document describing its core values, beliefs about learning, and vision of the graduate” in order to receive accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEAS&C). Schools around the world can access toolkits developed to support them in the process of developing their graduate profile.

The creation of a profile of a graduate begins with stakeholders brainstorming critical skills that graduates need to be successful in the world. Today, as the admin team and I perused through sample graduate profiles, we were struck with two things. First, we need all graduates to be expert learners and second, they need to have an innovator’s mindset (and then I was like, “Me and my bestie George Couros wrote a book about this!!!!!) Expert learners in UDL are motivated, purposeful, resourceful, knowledgeable, strategic, and goal-directed. And innovator’s embody the eight (8) characteristics below.

If you’re looking for an entry point to introduce Universal Design for Learning (UDL), endorsed in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), read Innovate Inside the Box to learn more about expert learning and the Innovator’s Mindset. Then, work with stakeholders to create your graduate profile and use the two frameworks to help you achieve it!

Pick up a copy of Innovate Inside the Box here. If you’re looking to purchase 10+ copies, we can hook you up with a discount. Email me for more information! katie@novakeducation.com

Innovate Inside the Box and the Profile of a Graduate