NC ‘Portrait of a Graduate’ revealed

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 20, 2022

An initiative led by the N.C Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to define the skills and mindsets students need for success after high school has been unfolding since March. Now, with the help of 1,200 North Carolinians across the state, this “Portrait of a Graduate” has been finalized.

The effort aims to ensure that North Carolina students are well equipped for the broadest range of postsecondary opportunities. Aligning with State Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Catherine Truitt’s 2022 focus on the “Year of the Workforce,” the portrait can be adopted by schools and districts to better prepare the state’s 1.5 million students for civic life, career or college.

As determined by the design teams that were part of the initiative, the statewide portrait identifies seven competencies that students should possess upon graduation from high school to help them thrive in the 21st century. These are:

• Adaptability

• Collaboration

• Communication

• Critical thinking

• Empathy

• Learner’s mindset

• Personal responsibility

“There was and remains a steady need for students to develop skills outside of what we consider traditional technical skills and academic knowledge,” Truitt said in a news release. “Data also shows us that durable skills, like the ones included in the Portrait, are in high demand among employers and beneficial to students regardless of the path they choose — be it college, career, or military. This newly unveiled statewide Portrait is an important way we can allow, encourage and invite schools to begin emphasizing durable skills in the classroom, and is a tool that will help students develop these competencies during their time in North Carolina public schools.”

The Department of Public Instruction began working directly with local school districts this spring to solicit broad participation and engagement from educators, students and families to employers, business leaders and workforce development boards across all eight of the state’s educational regions. Volunteers were organized into design teams, which collaborated over three months to determine the key competencies that would be included in the final Portrait. The design teams specifically included representatives from across the education sector, including: the N.C. Community College System, NC Independent Colleges and Universities, the University of North Carolina System, BestNC, myFutureNC, Communities in Schools, the N.C. Department of Commerce, the Emerging Issues Institute, the Institute for Emerging Issues’ rural faith community network, and the N.C. Chamber of Commerce.

School districts can use the Portrait to enhance classroom learning, as it pairs academic rigor with the skills and mindsets that will help prepare North Carolina students for an ever-changing world. It gives school leaders and teachers the framework to design instruction that promotes real-world competencies and job readiness. Additionally, the Portrait will also drive better alignment between employers, communities, higher education institutions, and families as North Carolina schools help to prepare students for the postsecondary plans of their choice.

Long term, the Portrait of a Graduate provides a potential framework for designing a multi-measured system of accountability that not only emphasizes strong academic outcomes but also highlights the durable skills and mindsets students need to thrive. An effort now underway to revise the state’s accountability system provides an opportunity to create a system that is a more balanced measure for student success and school quality. The Portrait helps inform the work around these discussions and allows for consideration of other indicators that support the well-being and readiness for civic life, career and college for all students.

View the final Portrait here.

View an FAQ on the Portrait of a Graduate process here.

Visit the Portrait of a Graduate webpage here.