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Success Stories Social-Emotional Learning

Boldly Redefining the School Experience With North Kansas City Schools’ Portrait of a Graduate

North Kansas City Schools logo

Engagement, self-efficacy, and sense of belonging soared for students who participated in bold new programs at North Kansas City Schools.

How did the school district accomplish these results? After reviewing their Panorama Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Surveys, district leaders realized they needed to redefine the school experience at both the elementary and secondary levels.  

Kristin Havens, Executive Director, Academic Services - Elementary, and Dr. Mark Maus, Executive Director, Academic Services - Secondary, shared with us how they achieved extraordinary results in one of the largest, most diverse districts in the state of Missouri. 

Keep reading to learn how North Kansas City Schools took action to establish microschools and college-career pathways aligned with their Portrait of a Graduate and Panorama surveys. 

 

Developing Portrait of a Graduate Competencies

Dr. Mark MausDr. Mark Maus Executive Director, Academic Services - Secondary:

We had approximately 50 stakeholders participate in this work over the course of about six months. The stakeholders included students, community and business leaders, teachers, K-12 administrators, as well as key members of the central office. 

Our students that were invited had a voice. Many times when they spoke, that's when the room was the quietest, because people wanted to hear from our students what they wanted out of their schools. 

We identified seven competencies that go across, time, space, jobs, and occupation. Whether you're going to become a medical doctor and go to school for eight to 10 years, or you're going to graduate from one of our schools and transition into a two-year trade school, we really wanted to identify competencies that were transferable.

 

North Kansas City Schools’ Portrait of a Graduate

North Kansas City School’s Portrait of a Graduate 7 Competencies:

  1. Adaptability
  2. Communication
  3. Collaboration
  4. Empathy
  5. Integrity
  6. Learner’s Mindset
  7. Problem Solving

 

 

Mapping Portrait of a Graduate Competencies to Panorama SEL Surveys

 

Kristin Havens

 

Kristin Havens, Executive Director, Academic Services - Elementary:

So much time and energy was spent on creating these competencies. We had to figure out how we were going to measure them with our students. 

We were able to work with our colleagues at Panorama to find areas where Panorama topics and our Portrait of a Graduate competencies had a good match. 

We added some of that content into our student survey in order to better measure each of those competencies.

"We were able to work with our colleagues at Panorama to find areas where Panorama topics and our Portrait of a Graduate competencies had a good match.”

Kristin Havens–Kristin Havens, Executive Director, Academic Services - Elementary

North Kansas City Schools Portrait of a Graduate Alignment to Panorama Survey

North Kansas City Schools maps Portrait of a Graduate competencies to Panorama survey topics

 

As we looked at our data within Panorama, we decided in North Kansas City Schools that we wanted to offer our students a different experience for school. 

That's when we came across the idea of microschools. For us, microschools are just a school within a school that does things a little differently. 

Creating Microschools at the Elementary Level

Kristin Havens, Executive Director, Academic Services - Elementary:

With the microschools, we decided to do something a little bit different. We wrote interdisciplinary, integrated units. We are trying to integrate content areas into project-based learning that would highly engage and motivate students. 

We're looking at much more portfolio-based assessment—not only looking at the core competencies for those grade levels, but also Portrait of a Graduate competencies. 

We're also looking into the idea of looping within these microschools, where they have a very solid and strong relationship with their peers and with their teachers, and will have the opportunity to loop with that group for a second year of study. 

We're looking at specific competencies that align with our Portrait of a Graduate. Our Panorama survey data shows that with Growth Mindset, we are in the 90th percentile of districts nationwide, which is really high and a great celebration for us. We also have some great celebrations with Student-Teacher Relationships, which are up 10% from the fall of 2019.

Data Highlights: Elementary School Panorama Survey Results

Student Competencies

  • Growth Mindset – In the 90th percentile of all districts nationwide

Supports & Environments

  • Teacher-Student Relationships, Engagement, Sense of Belonging – In the 90th percentile of all districts nationwide.
Launching College and Career Pathways at the High School Level
 

Dr. Mark Maus Executive Director, Academic Services - Secondary: 

When we implemented the Panorama survey and got feedback from our students, we saw Sense of Belonging and Engagement decrease beginning in kindergarten and going all the way through secondary school. 

So, the board made a goal for our superintendent: to boldly redefine the high school experience. We developed a partnership with an organization to bring in what we have called “college and career pathways.” 

" When we implemented the Panorama survey and got feedback from our students, we saw Sense of Belonging and Engagement decrease beginning in kindergarten and going all the way through secondary school. So, the board made a goal for our superintendent: to boldly redefine the high school experience."

Dr. Mark Maus–Dr. Mark Maus Executive Director, Academic Services - Secondary

The students all share the same core teachers, as well as a counselor and an assistant principal. We’ve built in weekly time during their schedule for that staff team to meet and talk not only about cross-curricular activities, but also student support.

We started with our ninth graders this year, and then we'll add a grade level each year. In 2025, our high schools will have 100% of kids in college and career pathways. 

Knowing that in the microschools, students’ engagement is 15 points higher than their peers has caused Chris and I both to think: What is causing that engagement to be higher and how can we replicate that?


Data Highlights: Secondary School Panorama Survey Results

Secondary microschool students scored higher than their non-microschool peers on several key indicators:

  • Self-Efficacy +7% 
  • Engagement +15% 
  • Sense of Belonging +8%
  • Teacher-Student Relationships + 15%

Interested in measuring your students' SEL skills? Download the open-source Panorama Social-Emotional Learning Survey.

Topic(s): Success Stories , Social-Emotional Learning

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