On Friday, February 12, our Commonwealth continued in an exciting process that will ultimately lead to the crafting of our new “Profile of a Virginia Graduate.” In a discussion facilitated by WestEd’s Dr. Becky Smerdon and introduced by Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Steve Staples and VDOE’s Chief Academic Officer Dr. Billy Haun, representatives from a host of organizations, including VASSP, offered perspectives. Throughout the half-day summit, those ambassadors, from the business community and community colleges to classroom teachers and school board members, spoke enthusiastically about what skills our schools should be most vested in as we ready young people for college, the workplace, and citizenship.
In reviewing several profile prototypes developed in both the Old Dominion and across the nation, discussants began with consensus that schools must, of course, continue to invest in readying students for post-secondary education through the development of deep content knowledge. Quickly, the group coalesced in agreeing that our function, however, went well beyond that. A new global and ever-changing economy also demands the establishment of personal career pathways and the refinement of skills integral to workplace success, from collaboration and communication to critical thinking and creativity. The working group also agreed that we must help students be better prepared to be active participants in the democratic practice, from voting and civic engagement to community service and giving of oneself to others.
Great time and care were invested in helping to begin the process of developing measurable and operational definitions of these important skills. In keeping with the work of the Governor’s reform and innovation committee, the group embraced the notion that traditional multiple choice assessments cannot give us the rich and meaningful measures secured through rigorous, real-world performance assessments, already in use in a number of school systems in our state. Identifying such exemplars would be key, the group concluded, in helping all 132 divisions adopt such innovative measures. The use of qualitative research methodology, as well as traditional quantitative approaches, was also discussed.
A subsequent working session will be held upon review of the day’s notes by Dr. Smerdon, and we will publish that date as soon as it is announced.
As we all know as educators and secondary school administrators, the importance of this process certainly cannot be overstated. Decisions made in the process will ultimately guide graduation requirements; determine how we assess mastery of requisite skills; and designate what K-12 education, particularly in the high schools, will look like in the decades to come. As always, if you have input you wish to share, you are encouraged to contact us here at VASSP.