The N.C. Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is engaged in an initiative that, depending on how it is implemented, could have a huge impact on learning experiences in the state’s public schools.
It’s called “Portrait of a Graduate,” with seven newly identified “competencies” that N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said she hopes school districts incorporate into every aspect of learning because they are needed regardless of what students do after graduating from high school.
These seven are adaptability, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, empathy, learner’s mindset and personal responsibility.
Portrait of a Graduate initiatives are at different stages of implementation nationwide in response to growing concern about current K-12 learning systems not preparing students to be successful for whatever comes after high school graduation.
Some tie this failure to the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act’s excessive emphasis on student testing scores and school grades. This federal act has been criticized for distracting students from quality learning and for making it hard for teachers to teach.
The level of preparedness of students must also be related to growing up in a period of disconnectedness and extreme negativity.
Whatever the reason, there is ample evidence nationwide of students not being equipped with what they need.
A DPI press release said Portrait of a Graduate gives school leaders and teachers the framework to design instructions that promotes real-world competencies and job readiness.
DPI said it will drive better alignment between employers, communities, higher education institutions and families as North Carolina schools strive to to prepare students for postsecondary plans of their choice.”
DPI is also working on coming up with a new accountability system. The goal of this is to replace a current model with too much emphasis on end-of-year testing
It labels schools with grades that many critics say are more indicative of poverty level in a school district than student learning.
A broader, more holistic way of measuring success in school is needed.
Although it may seem difficult to do, evaluating students to determine how well they have developed desirable qualities such as the seven traits listed in the third paragraph.
The hope and goal is for these and similar qualities to become a regular part of the classroom experience in North Carolina public schools.
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