What Should Your Graduates Know?


Districts are making sure students are equipped with the tools and knowledge for success

Michelle Healy
Associate Editor of American School Board Journal, a publication of the National School Boards Association

Sturdy backpacks stocked with school supplies are synonymous with the start of a new school year. In Kentucky’s Jefferson County Public Schools, that backpack theme is being used to usher in a new initiative aimed at increasing learning and equipping students for success in college, careers, and citizenship in the 21st century.

When classes resume in August, the state’s largest school district officially will launch its Backpack of Success Skills program. Designed to ensure that graduates leave Jefferson County schools equipped with “a virtual backpack” of key skills and experiences necessary for success in a rapidly changing world, the program is part of a multiprong plan to transform and advance the 101,000-student school system. (In May, the Jefferson board of education voted to appeal a recommendation by the Kentucky Department of Education to place the district under state management.)

Five skills identified for the Jefferson backpack include being an effective communicator, emerging innovator, prepared and resilient learner, globally and culturally competent citizen, and productive collaborator. These skills emerged from conversations with educators, administrators, parents, students, and community and business leaders, says Chief Academic Officer Carmen Coleman.

Drawing from those suggestions—while also emphasizing the mastery of academic content—Jefferson has crafted a portrait of what it wants for its graduates. From there, it plans to “work backwards to build the systems and experiences most likely to produce that outcome,” Coleman says. “The Backpack of Success Skills is our graduate profile.”

Read full article here at nsba.org
The article highlights the work of several districts across the country that have developed Portraits.