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Graduate Profile as a Planning Tool to Support Teaching and Learning Pilots

A profile with eight core traits of the ideal graduate of Colorado Springs School District 11


Colorado Springs School District 11 and its community saw a need for a more comprehensive way to ground all learning in a core set of essential skills. To support this need, the district leveraged community and staff feedback to create their graduate profile. Launched shortly before school closures, the graduate profile has served as the guiding framework for the district’s various teaching and learning models introduced during the pandemic.

“Something that we had implemented right before we had to close schools and move to remote learning on March 13th last year was our D11 graduate profile. That goes into the wider competencies that we're promising our community we're developing in learners. It's situated both in the Colorado essential skills that our state provides us and our standards, but also in job outlook studies of the skills that our students need post K-12. When you think of time management and risk management, those were things that our students were struggling to demonstrate because we hadn't provided enough opportunities in our traditional settings for that. So we're telling the community to pay attention to this graduate profile because it has all of the pieces learners need to be developing.” - Nicole Ottmer, Personalized Learning Systems Coordinator


Structured around eight core tenants, which include, Academically Ready Learner, Continuous Learner, Empowered Citizen, Skilled Communicator, Innovative Problem Solver, Healthy and Balanced Learner, Critical Thinker, Empathetic Collaborator, the profile places an emphasis on a range of skills, such as academic and communication skills for healthy and balanced learning. The graduate profile provides staff, students, and families with a comprehensive vision of the skills needed to successfully graduate from D11 schools and be well prepared for work and life after graduation. Each of the eight skills identified in the profile aligns with a list of performance outcomes for learners in Kindergarten through 12th grade. These skills and performance outcomes were the driving force behind different learning models introduced during the shift to remote and hybrid learning, such as inquiry-based learning. Teachers frequently leverage the graduate profile to structure their lessons to ensure that they’re embedding these essential skills within their instruction. Teachers are encouraged to leverage the various elements of the graduate profile that they envision coming to life for learners throughout a project. Additionally, teachers encourage students to connect with and reflect on the profile as part of the project or practice.

This strategy is a part of TLA's Hop, Skip, Leapfrog release, which explores the concrete ways in which schools and systems pursued student-centered innovation during COVID-19. Explore the full guide to find additional strategies, insights, and resources.