Portrait of a Graduate

The Portrait ensures that North Carolina students are well equipped for the broadest range of postsecondary opportunities, be it college, career, or military.

Now, more than ever, a student’s learning experiences must include the acquisition of rigorous academic content and the durable skills and mindsets students need to thrive in the post-secondary plan of their choice. The North Carolina Portrait of a Graduate allows for both, leading to deeper student learning and skill attainment required in an ever-changing world.

The Portrait shows us that student academic success matters, but so does a student’s ability to adapt, to collaborate, to communicate, to think critically, to show empathy, to learn, and to take personal responsibility. Learn more about the competencies below.

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As determined by the Portrait design teams, the statewide Portrait identifies seven competencies that students should possess upon graduation from high school in order to thrive in a 21st century place of work - be it college, career, or military. 

  • Adaptability  
  • Collaboration
  • Communication  
  • Critical Thinking  
  • Empathy  
  • Learner’s Mindset
  • Personal Responsibility 

A grassroots effort, this process involved nearly 1,200 North Carolinians from across the state and represents an exciting statewide consensus among K-12 educators, administrators, families, employers, communities, and higher education institutions.

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction began working directly with local school districts during Spring 2022 to solicit broad participation and engagement from educators, administrators, students and families to employers, community leaders, higher education, and workforce development boards across all eight of the state’s educational regions. 

Volunteers were organized into Design Teams, which collaborated over three months to determine the key competencies that would be included in the final Portrait. These teams were primarily comprised of students, teachers, parents, and administrators, and were joined by the following cross-sector partners:

Download the North Carolina Portrait of a Graduate resources.