Reports & Guidance

Portraits of a Graduate

Strengthening Career and College Readiness Through Social and Emotional Skill Development

February 2, 2024

This report examines state portraits of a graduate and how state strategies for development and implementation can support future readiness. It also provides recommendations for state education agencies to consider to lift up the importance and visibility of these portraits.

Several states have begun the process of developing a “portrait” or “profile of a graduate,” which is a holistic look at the skills and competencies students need to master to thrive in work, postsecondary educational opportunities, community, and their personal lives.

To better understand how states are utilizing the portrait of a graduate to prepare students for career and college, we conducted a scan of all 50 states to see which states had developed statewide portraits of a graduate or visions of a high school graduate. The results inform the findings and recommendations of this report, including the skills states are highlighting as essential for students’ future success and how states are making this vision actionable in service of cultivating future-ready graduates.

As this review indicates, states are keenly aware that today’s students will be called on to meet the growing challenges of the 21st century, as among the top skills are critical thinking and problem- solving, social awareness skills, and being an active citizen. Moreover, states deeply understand it is necessary to develop students’ social and emotional skills and competencies. This report delves deeper into how states are implementing their portrait of a graduate to help students meet these expectations.

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