What qualities should an Indiana grad have? The state is asking for input.

The backs of six students in purple caps and gowns in a line with their arms around each others’ shoulders.
Besides academic proficiency, what qualities should Indiana graduates have? The state Board of Education wants public input. (Seth McConnell/The Denver Post)

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.

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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.

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