Indiana seeking input to determine desired qualities of graduates

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Communication. Financial literacy. Grit.

These are some of the qualities that might help a student after graduation—and the state of Indiana wants to identify and measure them to track every student’s progress toward that goal.

In addition to what the state is required by recent legislation to track—like academic performance, graduation rates, and progress toward college—the department wants to add qualities such as communication and collaboration; grit and resilience; and civic, financial, and digital literacy to a dashboard currently under development.

Those proposed qualities were developed through broad and diverse stakeholder input, said Ron Sandlin, senior director for school performance and transformation at the Indiana Department of Education, at a presentation to the State Board of Education last week.

The department is now seeking public opinion through the fall about what characteristics are most important, and what others it should consider.

Once categories are finalized, the department will determine what indicators—such as test scores—could be used to measure students’ progress toward each trait in grades K-12 and beyond, forming the Indiana Graduates Prepared to Succeed (GPS) dashboard.

Board members voiced differing opinions about how to quantify qualities like grit, and what the department’s role should be in students’ postsecondary lives.

“I don’t know how you measure grit,” board member Pat Mapes said. “When they’re out on their own, if they don’t have that, I don’t know it can be taught, it’s kind of something inherent.”

“I was disappointed to see you took creativity off of here,” board member Byron Earnest said of the dashboard. “I don’t know how you measure that either, but I think it’s easier than grit.”

The concept of a graduate profile is based on Utah’s Portrait of a Graduate, which identifies the ideal characteristics of a Utah graduate after going through the K-12 system. But the portrait adds the caveat that those qualities aren’t necessarily meant to be quantified or measured.

Indiana is required to provide both state and local versions of the dashboard.

The state board will hear more information and public comment on the topic at its next meeting on Oct. 13, with a final dashboard expected in December.

Chalkbeat is a not-for-profit news site covering educational change in public schools.

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5 thoughts on “Indiana seeking input to determine desired qualities of graduates

  1. I believe grit is something you develop by getting knocked down and getting back up. A habit performed often enough becomes a character trait. I’m not an education expert but I have had kids in public and private schools. A great place to start may be in allowing teachers to grade more aggressively for incomplete or sloppy work, enforce ACTUAL deadlines (no makeup work for forgetting, etc.) and remove unruly kids from the classroom to a locale sufficiently boring enough to make Jr. think twice about disrupting again. I’m convinced that “grit” or rather work ethic can be taught. I’m not sure it can be measured in dashboard friendly readouts but it WILL be measured in the quality of Indiana’s future workforce.

    1. Well said. GRIT, Perseverance, Gratitude, Humility… all the “distasteful” character traits from a media/social-media perspective – are the very ones that lead to success in most areas of life.

    2. Chrisopher D…. What are you even talking about. “Distasteful” by what “media/social-media” perspective? Pretty sure the news and media are filled with stories of grit, perseverance, gratitude, and humility. Sounds like you are just falling for a peddled fallacy.

  2. Grit, communication and creativity are hard to measure, and I would be afraid that trying to quantify that would be an incentive fluff actual student performance.

    However, I would be interested in teaching and testing financial literacy, if only for information’s sake. Kids should be taught practical things like how credit cards function, how to evaluate the true cost to purchase a car (assuming an auto loan) and what taxes are baked into the cost of things like food, clothing, cars, etc.

  3. Creativity can easily be measured by asking students to provide three solutions to a problem in a hypothetical project. Then pose the same problem again, but tell students there is X amount of time. See what they come up with when faced with an added obstacle. Repeat, but this time impose X amount of funding. Repeat, with X amount of personnel available to solve the problem. These are the obstacles we face in real life, and where many members of a team strike out.