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 deeper student learning and skill attainment and bridges the gap between K-12 education and workforce readiness, supporting Superintendent Truitt’s strategic plan Operation Polaris.  

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

The agency has released multiple resources to support the implementation of the Portrait in North Carolina’s schools, such as the Portrait of a Graduate Playbook, Communications Toolkit, and additional tools like Rubrics, “I Can Statements,” Suggestions for Use and, most recently, Performance Tasks.  

Collectively, these resources are intended to serve as a guide for developing, understanding, monitoring and measuring student progress from pre-K to high school graduation. They were created and informed by more than 120 stakeholders, including North Carolina’s very own educators, who provided their invaluable classroom perspectives with the goal of assisting students in their acquisition of durable skills to help them excel both in and outside of the classroom.  

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As determined by the Portrait design teams, the statewide Portrait identifies seven durable skills 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.

Portrait of a Graduate Performance Tasks Graphic.

Performance tasks are lesson plans created by teachers for teachers that incorporate the Portrait’s durable skills with academics aligned with the NC Standard Course of Study. For questions about a specific task, please email NCportrait@dpi.nc.gov to be connected with the team of educators and experts who created it.