State School Board approves aspirational portrait of a Utah public high school graduate

State School Board approves aspirational portrait of a Utah public high school graduate

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SALT LAKE CITY — What characteristics should a high school graduate exemplify after attending Utah public schools grades K-12?

The new "portrait of a graduate" recently adopted by the Utah State Board of Education takes "a holistic view of what we expect from students in Utah," said board member Jennifer Graviet.

"It is meant to be aspirational," as opposed to skills or knowledge that can be quantified and measured, she said.

The portrait, which is called the Utah Talent MAP, focuses on:

• Mastery, meaning the ability to demonstrate depth of knowledge and skill proficiency.

• Autonomy, which is having the self-confidence and motivation to think and act independently.

• Purpose, which guides life decisions, influences behavior, shapes goals, offers a sense of direction and creates meaning.

Board member Laura Belnap, chairwoman of the task force that developed the documents, said the group wants to empower parents, teachers and students to be a voice in their community.

"We encourage you to go through your own journey toward discovering the unique values and characteristics within your own communities," Belnap said in a statement.

The guiding documents were adopted by unanimous vote of the school board after an amendment to add self-advocacy to the wellness section.

"I know that some students struggle with advocating for themselves and being able to represent themselves in social situations, maybe even at the doctor if they have to answer questions about their health. Developing self-advocacy skills is such a vital thing to do," said board member Linda Hansen, who sought the amendment.

The Utah Talent MAP was developed by a task force of state school board members and board staff whose work was informed by statewide surveys and feedback from educators, students, parents and other community members.

The task force agreed on 13 characteristics important to a well-rounded graduate of Utah public schools: academic mastery; wellness; civic, financial and economic literacy; digital literacy; communication; critical thinking and problem-solving; creativity and innovation; collaboration and teamwork; honesty, integrity and responsibility; hard work and resilience; lifelong learning and personal growth; service and respect.

The state board encourages schools and districts to develop their own portraits of a graduate.

"These documents will be helpful as education leaders continue to innovate for competency-based learning to improve outcomes in public schools by advancing student mastery of concepts and skills," a board press release states.

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