After a year of development, Portrait of a Graduate will launch this fall
Durango School District 9-R unveiled its Portrait of a Graduate plan at this year’s Durango High School graduation ceremony. It came after multiple community meetings and discussions about how to best prepare students for life after graduation.
The plan will become a “north star” for students’ futures, according to a news release from the school district. It is based around six competencies: courageous leadership, creative problem-solving, confident communication, agile thinking, empathetic collaborating and resilient risk-taking.
“We’ve identified the dispositions and skills that we feel like are very important for every single student to have all the way from preschool to 12th grade so that they can be successful in the future,” Superintendent Karen Cheser said.
DHS principle Jon Hoerl said there were many accolades for this year’s senior class, including a 3.39-weighted class grade-point average and the first class involved in internships. Cheser said these are great building blocks heading into the first year of Portrait of a Graduate.
Portrait of a Graduate will present students with more project-based learning opportunities and opportunities to deal with current issues rather than memorizing facts. However, these concepts are based around content mastery and applying that mastery to settings students will use after they graduate.
Developing instructional blueprints for each of the competencies is the next step in the process for the school district. These will be developed by teachers, leaders, community members and students.
“All of this is to prepare students,” Cheser said. “Our world is so much different from the way it used to be. No matter if the jobs change or the pathways change.”
Part of the new plan will be encouraging entrepreneurial thinking. Through social media platforms, students have become more interested in starting their own businesses.
Cheser cited a survey that found 75% of high school students said they may want to be an entrepreneur but only 2% of them receive any type of training in the necessary fields.
The program also promotes a more diverse thought process when approaching students with different interests and how they can turn those passions into a feasible career path. Cheser references students who may be interested in working in trade professions.
Another aspect of the new plan is the concept of agile thinking. This is to promote in-depth thinking when analyzing new concepts.
“We want them to think flexibly and be able to change their thinking if necessary, and apply their thinking to new ideas,” Cheser said. “And that’s sort of what we mean by agile.”
In the future, the district wants to implement portfolios and capstone projects at each level as a way of recognizing skills. Students will have documentation of when they used these competencies, called “artifacts.” Capstone projects are presentations students will give at the end of the year to demonstrate their knowledge of the skills.
While nothing has been finalized about the projects, there have been discussions about having them at the end of the fifth, eighth and 12th grades.
“Eventually, it could be every-single grade level,” Cheser said. “But that’s the vision right now.”