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Aurora Institute

New iNACOL Issue Brief on Redefining Student Success: Profile of a Graduate

Education Domain Blog

Authors: Maria Worthen, Natalie Truong, Susan Patrick

Issues: State Policy, Redefine Student Success


Today, conversations are happening in states that explore how to build education systems that prepare young people for success in postsecondary education, the workforce, and civil society. A new definition of success is crucial to drive system improvements that are built around students — including creating instructional shifts to personalize learning, rethinking systems of assessments, creating competency-based pathways and designing multiple pathways with improved learning environments connected to communities and to the real world.

iNACOL released a new policy issue brief, Redefining Student Success: Profile of a Graduate, which provides an explanation of why the issue of redefining student success in K-12 education is critical and recommendations for state policymakers. Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states have an unprecedented opportunity to transform K-12 education systems with flexibility to advance equity and help every student succeed with a new definition of success to generate a shared vision for student success that prepares all students for college, career and civic life. The new law makes it possible for state leaders to first redefine success, then redesign systems of assessments, accountability models, and educator preparation and development systems that coherently align to and support comprehensive student learning outcomes and equity.

This issue brief explores the importance of creating more holistic definitions of success that reflect communities’ aspirations for their students’ futures  —  to drive coherence in policies and to improve outcomes. Policymakers can use new definitions of student success that enable student-centered learning systems to:

  • Support student learning;
  • Empower educators to facilitate learning and growth toward a new, more comprehensive definition of success; and
  • Create coherence and alignment in state education systems.

An important concept for policymakers to consider, as they build a vision for K-12 education systems, is how to redefine success. With clear, comprehensive definitions of success, states can begin to transform their education systems, and do so in a coherent manner, so that everyone is working together to help students succeed. As an important first step, state policymakers and stakeholders could collaborate to identify the knowledge and skills students will need to succeed in college, career and civic life. This could inform conversations around the strategic design of graduate profiles that describe what students should know and be able to do upon graduation from high school.

For more information, download the iNACOL issue brief, Redefining Student Success: Profile of a Graduate, and access other issue briefs:

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