Graduation season is upon us.  As we reflect on what commencement means for our students, it’s important to recognize that many schools have defined their student outcomes and designed their programs to respond to these expectations.  For example, the Jesuit schools have articulated their “Graduate at Graduation” which celebrates the following characteristics:

  • Open to Growth
  • Intellectually Competent
  • Religious
  • Loving
  • Committed to Doing Justice

Jesuit schools across the country have adopted these characteristics and they have impacted their schools.  As these characteristics were implemented, that would have demanded new types of conversations and the design of new programs.

The Jesuit efforts have inspired other schools such as Lumen Christi, Our Lady of the Lake, and even new schools such as Frassati in Spring, Texas.  It has inspired accreditation efforts to define Integrated Student Outcomes, Expected Schoolwide Learning Results, and Schoolwide Learning Expectations.  It has even inspired public school districts to define learning outcomes.

This effort to define our expectations and outcomes at graduation, rooted in backward design, allows us to measure our success.  I’m not arguing for a quantitative measure or paper-or-pencil tests.  I am suggesting, however, that we should spend time reflecting on whether we are successful in producing what we hope to produce.  Do our students match our expectations?  Or do they exceed?

If you’re looking for inspiration, here are some great commencement resources: