A Systems Approach to Educational Transformation

June 25, 2023

When the whole education system is aligned to the 21st century vision—the Portrait of a Graduate—equitable, deeper learning outcomes for every student can be realized.

Building on the locally developed Portrait of a Graduate, this nested system approach – Portrait of a Graduate, Portrait of an Educator, Portrait of a Leader, and Portrait of a System – provides the cohesive alignment, necessary to bring the vision to life.  The nested system framework illustrates the dependency of each component part of the system for enduring transformation.

Start with Building a Shared Vision for Student Success in the 21st Century

Our facilitation of the Portrait of a Graduate design process includes the engagement of a local Design Team, comprised of diverse perspectives from the broader community to inspire ownership, ambassadorship, and action. Through an exploration of the changing landscape and the use of an online Portrait-My Sketch tool, Design Team members explore essential 21st century competencies to identify the community’s shared aspiration for today’s learners. This vision becomes the system’s North Star for transformation. 

Design Team members engage in conversation around these questions:

  • What are the hopes, dreams, and aspirations that your community has for every student?
  • What are the skills and mindsets that students need to thrive in our ever-changing world?
  • What are the implications for learning and equitable structures and practices in your school system?

Watch these education leaders share the benefits of having a Portrait of a Graduate:

Contact us to personalize Portrait of a Graduate services for your district.

On Your Own: Explore our free “Getting Started Guide” at and other self-starter resources.



Locally developed, the Portrait of an Educator identifies the competencies necessary for today’s 21st century education workforce. This exploration reveals the supports the system needs to provide for educators as they shift practice and implement deeper learning experiences aligned to the Portrait of a Graduate. The Portrait of an Educator is integral to our Human Capital21 offerings, integrating these educator competencies into building the capacity of current teachers and seeking to hire the skills necessary to achieve the district’s Portrait of a Graduate vision.

This facilitated process engages system leaders in the exploration of the skills and mindsets essential for leading 21st century educational transformation. Throughout this process, leaders reflect upon their own readiness to advance 21st century education while also identifying ways to build organizational capacity to advance equitable and enduring deeper learning outcomes for every student.

Every school system is unique and complex with interdependent parts. Intentionally aligning each part of the system establishes conditions of readiness to bring the vision to life for every student. Our Portrait of a System facilitation process includes a 21st century education system Self-Assessment Tool to help education leaders reflect, align, and establish foundational readiness for the system’s transformation. This facilitated process is also a key component in our strategic planning process.  



Contact us to learn how we can help you get started on your transformation journey.

Download the Systems Approach Overview