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Board of Education Adopts Portrait of a Graduate, Goals and Guardrails

April 27, 2021 -- The Board of Education unanimously adopted the Columbus City Schools Portrait of a Graduate as the District’s new educational vision, along with its own Board Goals and Guardrails, at its regular business meeting on April 20. These two measures, which have been months in the making, will be integral in shaping the future of CCS.

Students Leading the Way

At the heart of the District’s vision and priorities will be the concept of “students leading the way.” Every decision we make and initiative we put forth will keep students at the center of our work. They will be engaged in the process and help shape the opportunities we offer them. Students must have a voice in our District and be active participants in determining the outcomes we strive to achieve. Our students will lead Columbus City Schools into the future.

Portrait of a Graduate

The Portrait of a Graduate is the District’s “north star” that ensures we prepare students for success, now and in the future. The Portrait is a collective vision that articulates our community’s aspirations for every student in Columbus City Schools. Our Portrait of a Graduate will serve as the educational vision for our schools, bringing our community together with a shared purpose.

Beginning in December 2019, Columbus City Schools partnered with Battelle for Kids to engage stakeholders to develop a Portrait of a Graduate that is unique to our community and our schools. The Portrait Design Team was composed of more than 150 internal and external stakeholders, who represent the various groups of our community including families, students, teachers, administrators, staff, partners, policymakers, and business leaders. This Design Team enabled our District to engage diverse perspectives to build a shared vision for our students.

Over the course of several months, the Portrait Design Team explored the questions:

  • What are the hopes, dreams, and aspirations that our community has for our young people?
  • What are the skills and mindsets that our children need for success in this rapidly changing and complex world?
  • What are the implications for the design of the learning experiences—and equitable access to those experiences—we provide in our school systems?

What resulted was a final Portrait of a Graduate that includes six attributes, or pillars, that we envision for every CCS student to embody:

  • Adaptability – Our students will be agile in thoughts and actions, responding productively to positive and negative feedback while balancing diverse views to reach workable solutions.
  • Communication – Our students will effectively express thoughts and ideas using oral, written, and nonverbal skills while being active listeners able to decipher meaning and intention.
  • Creativity – Our students will be imaginative and explore original ideas and innovative solutions by transcending traditional thoughts, patterns, and relationships.
  • Critical Thinking – Our students will analyze and apply evidence-based reasoning to understand “big picture” challenges and how solutions affect other parts of a system.
  • Global Empathy – Our students will value and engage diverse cultures and unique perspectives through mutual respect and open dialogue while taking action to make the world more equitable and inclusive.
  • Technology – Our students will leverage traditional and emerging technology to consume, create, communicate, and connect while practicing responsible citizenship in an increasingly digital world.

Board Goals and Guardrails

The Board of Education also adopted its “Goals and Guardrails” at last week’s meeting. These have been months in the making, as the Board and district administration worked with the Council of the Great Schools (CGCS) to help develop the goals, guardrails, and metrics.

Click here to watch a presentation of the goals and guardrails from April 12, 2021.

Developing these goals and guardrails did not happen in a vacuum. Beginning last year, Board Members met and talked with stakeholders, community partners, families, students, teachers, administrators, and staff. They held several special public meetings with A.J. Crabill from CGCS to discuss and review what they learned and what they wanted to see in the goals and guardrails. 

The three Board Goals are:

  • Strengthen Reading Proficiency - The percentage of third-grade students proficient in Reading on the Ohio State Test (OST) will increase from 43% (or a decline in the benchmark due to COVID) in School Year 2018-2019 to 55% by June of 2026.
  • Develop Portrait-Ready Graduates - The percentage of the Class of 2028 who earn the Portrait of a Graduate Seal will increase from 0% in June 2022 to 25% by June 2028.
  • Close Opportunity Gaps - The percentage of 4-year graduation cohort students who complete state and district graduation requirements will increase from 81.2% in August 2020 (or a decline in the benchmark due to COVID) to 86% in August 2026.

Guardrails are operational actions, typically strategic not tactical, which the superintendent may not use or allow in pursuit of the district’s goals. Guardrails are based on the community’s values, aligned with the district’s educational vision and goals, and are non-negotiable.

The four Board Guardrails are:

  • Fund Intervention Supports - The superintendent will not allow the Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS) for students’ needs to be underfunded.
  • Prioritize a Whole Child Focus - The superintendent will not allow the district to ignore a whole child approach.
  • Align Resources Equitably - The superintendent will not allow any region to be without strong learning communities.
  • Ensure a Culturally-Responsive Staff - The superintendent will not allow the staff to be culturally non-responsive.

Next Steps

Now that the Board has officially adopted the Portrait of a Graduate and its Goals and Guardrails, the District will work to finalize its comprehensive strategic plan this spring. The plan will include strategic priorities and objectives that are aligned to accomplish the Board Goals and shape the future of the District.

“We are working to finalize a new strategic plan that will outline our priorities as we work to accomplish the Board goals and realize our educational vision in Portrait of a Graduate,” said CCS Superintendent/CEO Dr. Talisa Dixon. “As these priorities are established, you will start to see shifts in our organization that align to each and are focused on ‘students leading the way.’ 

“These shifts will include initiatives, projects, and strategic staffing that will allow us to meet the needs of all students. I look forward to sharing more about our vision in the weeks and months ahead.”