Student Outcomes
Chapter: Aligning Student Outcome Themes to Vision

PROFICIENCY, AWARENESS, DISPOSITIONS AND AGENCY FRAMEWORK

Once you have a collectively contextualized vision, it is important to think about student outcome themes aligned to that vision. When we think of student outcome themes, what we mean is to identify a set of observable student outcomes that will give us the confidence today that our students are on that enduring path towards the vision.

Our engagements with some of the most transformational classrooms around the network are revealing meaningful patterns in the “broader student outcomes” that those teachers and students value. Of course, the terms used are different in different cultures and contexts. And of course these teachers’ determination to student growth aligned to the classroom’s contextualized vision of student success lead to variations in what student outcomes are priorities.

On 27th and 28th of July, we hosted a roundtable discussion at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC with experts, practitioners and a few partner organizations as a step towards sharpening our actionable insights and resources for defining and measuring transformational student outcomes.

Based on our learning and insights from the round table we have been able to refine our framework on broadened outcomes to include the following lenses as below. These lenses are continuing to evolve, even as we are building out a bank of resources that help demonstrate student growth on them.

The Proficiency, Awareness, Dispositions, Agency (PADA) framework

The PADA is not intended as “framework” that a partner organization can use as its student outcomes model but are instead intended as 

a “critical mirror” resource that provokes partner organizations or teachers to make more intentional, vision-aligned choices in choosing, defining and monitoring student growth.

pada-framework

 

A key learning that emerged during the two days of the round table was that the conversation on outcomes is most powerful when the idea of contextualized vision is at the center of it. It was a struggle to discuss outcomes in isolation and by grounding it in vision was critical for the perspectives on tracking progress against those outcomes. The wheel of the framework cues movement towards the vision and the dotted lines indicate fluidity between the four themes as well as the inter-relatedness between them.

Proficiency –   Academic and career-oriented knowledge and skills that open doorways of opportunity [Reading, writing, STEM, critical thinking, problem solving, aesthetic appeal, artistic curiosity, creative expression]

Awareness – Understanding of social, political, and cultural context in which students learn and grow and unlearning the majority narrative [Personal and cultural identity and assets, systemic injustices, etc.]

Dispositions –  Skills that are predictors for success in school and later in life and tricks that make this complex world easier to navigate [Managing self, managing self in relation to others, innovation and pursuit of goals]

Agency – Taking charge of one’s learning and being a part of collective action towards an aligned vision [Metacognition of learning, belief in self to change life’s trajectory, impact action on peers as well as community]

Access is one the As that is missing from the previous 5As framework. The thought behind that was how Access is mainly a means to get to all of these outcomes and can be integrated into each one of these.

PADA in Sanskrit means a ‘step’ – these outcomes are a step towards the self-determined opportunities aligned contextualized vision. At the heart of this framework is the contextualized vision.

 

These lenses are not actually separable from each other.While there are huge benefits to parsing them out and defining them, there are also costs in the risk that we do not treat them as a holistic set of inter-related ideas.

 

It is also important to understand that the framework does not reside in isolation but within a system or an environment. This environment may not necessarily value these outcomes and there is constant push towards retaining the status quo. 

To be clear, we have not seen any single classroom using the PADA in this form, but these four families of student growth represent a synthesis of the outcomes that most of our transformational teachers seek to hold themselves accountable to.

5as

 

To explain how we got here, allow us to take a brief step back to share our previous framework and lend voice to some of the critical feedback that we received.

We believe that this process will allow for you to experience firsthand how the conversation on broadened outcomes could unfold in your context, what are some of the facets that we all should consider  and how you could get the ball rolling on articulating the key themes that you would like to focus as a teacher or as an organization.

Here is a rough ‘sketch’ of the framework we started off with based on our observations from the strongest classrooms across the network. We believed that sparking a broad practitioner-centered inquiry will not only give us new insights on our fundamental questions but will also help us enable our partner organizations to identify the patterns of requisite teacher actions and mindsets, theories of teacher development, and strategies that orient our systems toward putting our students on an enduring path to choice and opportunity.

While there was affirmation of the broad themes of the 5As, there was valuable feedback around the language we use to communicate the ideas. For example, Laurel Elgin from Summit Public Schools said

I do wonder about the label of “aptitudes” for grit, growth mindset, and openness to new experience. The word aptitudes conjure the definition of innate or natural ability, rather than something that can be nurtured and grown, but rather something fixed.

The word ‘Academics’ is constrained by accountability and conformist assumptions around reading, writing, STEM, problem solving and analytical skills. We need to ensure that aesthetic appeal, artistic curiosity and creative expression finds space in this bucket and also think about how Academics can become the means to social justice rather than simply being information our students need to process. There were also critical reactions to Access, its buckets and questions on whether or when that is a code for assimilation. 

It was interesting to learn how intertwined these As are and some of the strongest emerging themes were – Awareness without Agency or Agency without Awareness is a dangerous idea since awareness without agency can lead to a sense of victimization and rage, and agency without awareness will end  up perpetuating the existing inequity. Sarah Wolman from the Lego Foundation said

How to couple the awareness with the agency that becomes not kind of a crippling, depressing element of kids life, but coupling enough agency with enough opportunities for success, even in small ways that the kids start seeing that unfairness that drives their own desire and motivation rather than, frankly as an excuses lot of kids are really afraid of not being able to make it, and then they fell back on that unfairness as a total explanation of why they are not able to succeed, and it can become very challenging. It’s important that those kids experience some success in that world of engagement, when you talk about awareness, I think I would suggest that somewhere between agency and awareness is the desire to help kids see that they have the capacity to be change makers, even if it’s only in their own classroom, and I think some of those two concepts together are very powerful

Another important point to remember is that academic achievement continues to be a good proxy as a predictor of success later in life. Whether it is consistently being present in school, doing homework, building and navigating relationships with peers and teachers, a high school GPA becomes an aggregate of all of these which means, an academic outcome such as GPA is also an indicator of other skills under ‘Aptitudes’ such as perseverance, self-efficacy and ability to work with others.

It was all these conversations and insights that led to the journey from the 5As to the PADA.  You could use the thinking around the 5As or the PADA framework to help guide your thinking around your student outcomes framework. 

 

 

Use the below questions as a guide for reflection

What connections and tensions do you see between the PADA outcome themes? How do these outcomes manifest (or not) in your context? What worries you about what you are seeing? What excites you?

As we shared before, the idea is not for you to adopt the PADA framework but to create your own using this as an inspiration.

  1. Do you have a set of student outcome themes aligned to your contextualized vision?
  2. What are the areas of overlap and differences you see between your framework and what you just read?

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