Entry Point:
Graduate Profile

Spark Your District Transformation with a Graduate Profile

What Is a Graduate Profile?

A graduate profile articulates a district community's vision for student success. It typically identifies the cognitive, personal, and interpersonal competencies (knowledge, skills, and abilities) that students should have when they graduate high school. It provides common language for the outcomes that a community values. And it can serve as a "north star" for a district transformation.

That's what makes a graduate profile a promising entry point into Transformation Design. When a district and its larger community comes together to create a graduate profile, together they Activate a Shared Purpose.

Transformation Design Core Practice

Activate a Shared Purpose

Phase: Activate

Stream: Learning and Structural

Goal: Collectively developing a shared purpose, so that everyone—teachers, administrators, students, families, school board members, community and business leaders alike—has a common understanding of the vision, mission, values, principles, and goals for transforming learning district-wide.


  • Engage Every Stakeholder

  • Define the Problem

  • Collaboratively Re-envision Student Success

Activate a Shared Purpose with a Graduate Profile

Apply the Core Practice

  • Engage Every Stakeholder: How will your district community surface and understand the passions, concerns, and input of staff, students, and other stakeholders to inform the graduate profile? How will you intentionally engage those who are marginalized by systemic inequity to ensure that the graduate profile represents their gifts and perspectives?

  • Define the Problem: How well does the district currently prepare youth to thrive in 21st-century learning, work, and life? How will your district community clearly identify why a graduate profile is important and necessary to create?

  • Collaboratively Re-Envision Student Success: How will staff, students, and stakeholders work together to create the graduate profile? How will the graduate profile serve to articulate why your district community is transforming learning and guide changes in student learning?

Use a Tool

These tools for developing a graduate profile are well aligned to the principles and practices of Transformation Design. Explore both and choose the tool that works best for your district community based on your culture, assets, and needs. (Or, use these resources to create your own process!)

  • MyWays Student Success Framework: NGLC offers a framework and accompanying tools to help your district community identify a broader, deeper vision of student success. You can map your success definition to the 20 MyWays competencies and build your own integrated, holistic graduate profile with the Fine-Tune Your Community's Definition of Success tool. MyWays also provides additional tools and resources to engage your community, to better understand the changing world today's youth live in, and to redesign learning and assessment around your graduate profile.

  • Portrait of a Graduate: Battelle for Kids offers your district and larger community a comprehensive guide, resources, and a structured design process to create a "locally developed but globally positioned" Portrait of a Graduate. The tool helps match the hopes, aspirations, and dreams your community has for your young people with the skills and mindsets children need in our rapidly changing and complex world.

See an Example

Move Your District Transformation Forward

As you Activate a Shared Purpose with the graduate profile, deepen your use of Transformation Design with these related practices:

  • Deepen in the core practice: Activate a Shared Purpose

  • Spiral in the practice pair: Activate Change Agents

  • Advance in the practice stream: ReBuild the Learning Experience

Deepen with Activate a Shared Purpose

Look for ways that the graduate profile can help various units or groups within your district community develop a common understanding of the vision, mission, values, principles, and goals for transforming learning.

  • Schools, Departments, and Groups. Encourage "sub-communities" within your larger district community to collaboratively identify a shared purpose. What does the graduate profile mean to an elementary school, the transportation department, a teacher's union, a parent-teacher council, informal networks, etc.?

  • Vision, Mission, Values. Engage in an inclusive, collaborative process to articulate a new vision, mission, values, and/or beliefs statements based on the graduate profile.

Spiral with Activate Change Agents

Look for ways that the work related to the graduate profile can empower the people in your district community to see themselves as the district's change-makers.

  • Invite and empower stakeholders. Build a diverse team of staff, students, and stakeholders to lead the transformation.

  • Map roles by strengths. Get to know the gifts of staff, students, and stakeholders and how those gifts can contribute to the transformation.

  • Cultivate leadership capacity. Provide multiple opportunities for staff, students, and stakeholders to develop their strengths, gain the skills needed to lead change, and replenish their spirit and creativity.

Advance to ReBuild the Learning Experience

Look for ways to try new approaches to learning that are guided by the graduate profile.

  • Start with a shared priority. Identify a new approach to learning that the district community values highly and create a pathway for small groups and teams to try this approach.

  • Establish cycles of improvement. Set up an openly transparent inquiry process to understand if new approaches to learning are leading to intended outcomes and to figure out how to get better.

  • Design and refine the learning model. Collaboratively create a comprehensive learning design that links your district's assets with the vision expressed in the graduate profile.

  • Move forward, learning from setbacks. Promote a growth mindset by encouraging risks, persisting through challenges, and responding to pushback.

Explore the Entry Points

There are many ways to apply Transformation Design to your learning transformation. View Other Entry Points.