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NWLSD Portrait of a Graduate

Northwest Local School District Portrait of a Graduate: Communication, Critical Thinking, Integrity, Learner's Mindset, Adaptability, Empathy

Northwest Local School District Begins It's Portrait of a Graduate

In 2020, Northwest Local School District (NWLSD) began partnering with Battelle for Kids and various community members to develop NWLSD’s Portrait of a Graduate (POG). Unfortunately, the momentum came to a halt in March due to COVID-19. In an effort to start the process back up, NWLSD held all of its upcoming meetings virtually. 
NWLSD rolled out its strategic plan last year. In it, the district identified its new mission, vision and belief statements as well as the 5 key goal areas of focus: (Culture of Trust, Financial Stability, Diversity and Equity, Social and Emotional Development and Student Achievement). The Portrait of a Graduate (POG) will be a key component of the district’s student achievement goal area in the strategic plan. “As NWLSD moves into the second year of implementation, we want to ensure that our student body is equipped with the academic content and the 21st Century skills they need to be contributing citizens in our world and to prepare them for their next steps in life, regardless of which path they choose,” said Todd Bowling, Superintendent of Northwest Local Schools. 

What is Portrait of a Graduate

The implementation of POG is the first step in framing a new vision for the school District. When complete, the Portrait of a Graduate will be a North Star to guide the district’s learning experiences and instructional design in and out of the classroom, this includes the learning experiences of all students Pre-K through 12th grade. In January, the district leaders and administrators began meeting with parents, staff, board members, communities of faith, business and community leaders, policy makers, social service agencies, educators, universities and students to learn the types of 21st Century skills in which stakeholders want students to excel in. There are numerous 21st Century skills, but a few include things like: adaptability, communication, critical thinking, learner's mindset, empathy, and integrity. “Now, more than ever, learning experiences must not only provide the acquisition of rigorous academic content, but they must also foster the development of 21st Century skills that our young people need to thrive in this complex, rapidly changing world,” said Brenda Miller, NWLSD Director of Curriculum.
The district’s team of stakeholders met once per month starting in January, and convened throughout the month of April. The virtual meetings were held on the following dates: January 13, February 11, March 16 and April 14.

Click the links below to see an overview of our meeting minutes: 

The following emerged during the development and vetting processes of Northwest Local School District Portrait:
• The leadership team assembled a strong, dynamic, and committed team of community members and educators. This team worked well together and stayed mostly intact throughout the entirety of the process and provided critical input to inform the Portrait of a Graduate.
• The leadership team, consisting of the superintendent and other district leaders, were mindful throughout the process of the needs of the students and community. Clearly, this team was uniquely committed to envisioning a brighter future for students in addition to the needs for a continued relevant and rigorous curriculum.
• As the district engaged in the discussions around how the world has changed over the last generation it almost unanimously found “empathy” to be a critical consideration.
• Throughout the design process, the leadership team pushed for unique ways to surface voice and choice by constituents and members of the design team. During the standardization of the process during Meetings 3 and 4 it is usual to gain additional commitment to the work. This process was enhanced as it was clear to the design team that “commitment” was evident. Instead, the time was used to clarify messages and messaging strategies for the roll-out.
• Modifications were made between the final meeting and the anticipated board adoption of the Portrait of a Graduate. Northwest Local’s Portrait of a Graduate will be formally adopted by the school board in May 2021.
• Our Department of Curriculum will begin working with the teaching staff to begin building a curriculum that fosters 21st Century Learning as well as the 6 competencies. Implementation into the curriculum will begin in the 2022-2023 school year. 

Portrait of A Graduate Competencies

The Portrait Design Team then worked in small groups to develop a set of prioritized competencies and shared their rationale with the broader group. This allowed team members to “test” their initial ideas with their peers. The results the group submissions were as follows:
After the pros and cons of competency set options were shared, a sharper list of competencies was devised and discussed with the Portrait Design Team. Then the team tailored and fine-tuned the definitions for each competency. Through this process they worked to embed language that describes the competencies that resonate with Northwest Local’s broader community. 
The final competencies and their definitions are listed below:


Our students….
• demonstrate flexibility and resiliency by responding effectively to changing situations and circumstances
• reflect and respond productively to feedback, praise, setbacks, and criticism
• understand and balance differing views to negotiate workable solutions


Our students…
• express thoughts and ideas effectively using oral, written, and nonverbal communication for a variety of purposes and audiences
• actively listen to understand others and remain open-minded
• use communication strategies to resolve disagreements peacefully and productively

Critical Thinking

Our students…
• consider multiple strategies and solutions to complex problems
• consistently analyze, assess, and reflect to enhance the quality of their own thinking
• apply intentional thinking that is clear, logical, and informed by evidence
• propose solutions that are mindful to the impact they may have on self and others


Our students…
• demonstrate awareness, sensitivity, concern, and respect for others
• seek to understand and connect with other’s thoughts, feelings, experiences, and cultures


Our students…
• earn others’ trust and respect by speaking and behaving in ways that are consistent and honest
• do the right thing even when it is challenging

Learner’s Mindset

Our students…
• display positive attitudes and beliefs about learning
• demonstrate curiosity by exploring concepts and asking questions
• actively seek diverse perspectives and learn from others
• demonstrate perseverance by working towards a goal despite difficulties while learning and growing from mistakes

Northwest Local Schoo District Portrait of a Graduate Competencies and their definitions