FCPS implements Portrait of a Graduate Program for upcoming school year

Daniel Holtaway, Staff Writer

Fairfax County Public Schools will be implementing a new project starting in the 2022-2023 school year, the Portrait of a Graduate (POG) program. On Dec. 3, 2021, the Madison News Network aired a 30 second segment featuring Principal Hood announcing the arrival of the POG. The POG is a portfolio that all high school students will create in order to demonstrate five skills: goal directed and resilient individual, communicator, ethical and global citizen, collaborator and critical thinker.

Dr. Elizabeth Dean, an instructional coach at Madison and one of the people working to implement POG, says that the portfolio will be bigger than just another graded assignment.

“I think ultimately the goal is to have students have a digital portfolio that you can take with you when you leave Fairfax County and when you graduate 12th grade, which would have evidence of growth in all the areas of Portrait of a Graduate,” Dean said. “As a lot of colleges are transitioning from one dimensional transcripts to a more holistic look at students through portfolios, this would be something that would easily transfer to not only your college application process but your post high school goals.”

While the POG will be an in school project, students are encouraged to demonstrate growth in the five skills outside of just their academics.

“We want it to be open for kids to showcase their growth in areas that don’t necessarily happen in the school, if you play a sport, have a job, or have some kind of extracurricular,” Dean said. “There is collaboration on a soccer field just as there is creativity through fine and performing arts.”

The POG was dreamt up over a decade ago as a way for students to measure their growth as opposed to their grades. Beth Blankenship, an English teacher at Madison, was one of the first to teach the POG skills.

“Way back before it was a Portrait of a Graduate, our old Superintendent Dr. Garza was interested in cross curricular competencies and skills,” Blankenship said. “It was probably 2008-2010 at that time. People were interested in a backlash against the SOL driven ‘you need to know discreet facts’ and with the technology explosion realizing students need to have transferable cross curricular skills.”

For the POG implementation to succeed, Blankenship says that students and teachers alike need to be open to it.

“If they [teachers] truly value it, they need to stand by it, and align their teaching and assessments with the POG,” Blankenship said. “Instead of ‘Unit Two Test,’ maybe it’s a ‘Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Test,’ and you should use creative and critical thinking to solve this problem.”