Throughout the pandemic, people have spoken about how schools need to take urgent action to mend cracks and close chasms in public education systems to make learning more meaningful and equitable. In Washington, a task force of educators, lawmakers and other community members was asked to redefine what it means to be a high school graduate ready for life and career before the end of the year.
This definition will go beyond grades: can students show how they are able to think critically while working in a team? Or how well do they adapt to changes and challenges? Can they confidently and competently balance a budget and Collaborate with people who look or think differently from them?
Washington is working hard to put together this âGraduate Profile,â a key list of skills and characteristics that all students should have and practice before entering the real world.
The group, known as the Masters-Based Learning Task Force, was first convened by the state’s education council two years ago this month. It is based on legislation designed to provide students with a more independent, better supported and more engaged learning experience.
The group hosted virtual listening sessions this summer with educators, families, businesses and members of the higher education community to gain feedback on the essential skills students must have to survive and be successful. thrive in life after high school. The final public listening session in this series will be at 5:30 p.m. on September 8 on Zoom. An online community survey to gather feedback on the topic is open until September 10.
Focus groups have also been held with groups of families and students of color, students and recent graduates who are differently able and their families, Muller said.
âThe working group hopes that a graduate’s profile, once developed, will serve as a global vision for the future of our education system,â said Alissa Muller, director of the consultancy mastery-based learning collaboration. education administration. The group takes into consideration existing state laws, including that which established multiple state graduation pathways, as they develop a graduate profile.
The group has until December 10 to describe the interdisciplinary skills a student should have developed before graduating from high school.
The work is still in its early stages, so there is no draft profile for review. But this effort could create a roadmap for moving the education system in a new direction.
When task force members submit their draft report of the listening sessions and the survey to the legislature, they will likely include cost estimates around the implementation or proposed policy changes, Muller said.
According to the 2020 Masters-Based Learning Task Force report, the profile “would mean the expansion of the Washington concept of a high school diploma from a concept based only on academic content to one based on academic content. on a holistic view of the student â, which means that he would recognize both the credit-based approach and the masterys
D to meet state learning standards.
Although this is a new initiative in Washington, its concept is not unique. The Snoqualmie Valley School District developed its ‘Portrait of a Graduate’ in 2019, after 900 people participated in an online deliberation and more than 80 people attended a community meeting on the topic. The district is in the midst of a three-year plan to implement its eight âcore competenciesâ in curriculum, policy, and teaching: communication and collaboration; adaptability and resourcefulness; empathy; creativity and innovation; Critical mind; independent life skills; global citizenship; and have a learner mindset.
Across the country, states and school districts are in various phases of developing and implementing similar programs. Muller said the task force looked at the districts of Illinois and Missouri, as well as statewide initiatives in South Carolina, Virginia and Wyoming. The South Carolina graduate’s profile links their state graduation goals – such as having a strong work ethic, knowing multiple languages, and having media and technology literacy – with a track record to help students to apply and improve their skills. These components progress by phase of development, from childhood to adulthood rather than being tied to a specific grade level.
Ashley Lin, a recent graduate of Union High School in Camas, is a young delegate of the State Task Force. During a webinar on July 27, she said it was important that students “leave high school with a plan that makes sense to them.” She said mastery-based learning is a way to âpersonalize student learningâ and to recognize the experiences they gain both inside and outside of classrooms.
âWe want the school to prepare us for the future,â Lin said. âWe want to know things like how to do our taxes and how to buy apartments and how to build our credit score. We want to be able to do real things in our community, and mastery-based learning gives us avenues to practice action, to practice taking responsibility, and to truly discover and hone our gifts and be of service to our community. .