Graduate Expectations

Winooski Graduate Expectations

  • Critical Thinking

I ask challenging questions, examine complex problems, and propose possible solutions.

  • Persistence

I commit to learning even when challenged or outside of my comfort zone, and push myself to reach my goals.

I accept the challenge of difficult or long-term problems, and I push myself to reach my goals.

  • Culture and Community

I know and appreciate different people, cultures, and perspectives; and participate in the life of my community and the greater world.

  • Communication

I am skillful at taking in, and expressing, ideas in multiple ways.

  • Well-Being

I identify my strengths and weaknesses, and take intentional steps to grow.

  • Creativity

I am creative, curious, and committed in my learning.

CLICK HERE to see how the Winooski GXs fit into the larger picture of what all WMHS Graduates need to know and be able to do before they graduate.


Burlington Graduate Expectations

Final BHS GX Wheel


  • Cross-Cultural Understanding and Engagement

I actively seek to learn about and to understand peoples, cultures, and perspectives. I engage in the life of my community and the greater world.

  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

I ask challenging questions, examine authentic problems, and analyze possible solutions.

  • Effective Communication

I use a variety of methods to express, receive, and respond to information and ideas.

  • Personal Development

I identify my strengths and weaknesses, advocate for my health and well-being, make positive choices, and take intentional steps to grow.

  • Curiosity and Creativity

I explore ideas with an open mind and try new and different ways to approach life and learning.

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After several months of shared learning, engaged conversation, and deep thought on the part of students, educators, parents, business leaders, and community partners, the Partnership for Change is excited to share the Graduate Expectations for Winooski Middle/High School and Burlington High School.

Graduate Expectations are the habits, skills, and knowledge that our community decides are most important to the success of all students in college, careers, and civic engagementThese are proficiency-based Graduate Expectations, meaning students must demonstrate that they have learned each one in order to graduate. For more than 100 years, Burlington and Winooski schools, along with most schools across the country, have measured students’ readiness for graduation according to seat-time or how many classes they have taken in each content area. But our world has changed significantly over the past century. In moving toward proficiency-based Graduate Expectations, we can ensure that our young people are fully prepared for the rapidly changing, complex world they will soon inherit.

Our Process

Our journey toward Graduate Expectations began back in December 2012 with 35 neighborhood learning conversations that engaged more than 400 students, teachers, parents, and community members in a conversation about what our graduates need to succeed. Participants in these conversations helped to generate a list of 19 possible Graduate Expectations. On February 2, 2013, more than 300 Winooski and Burlington residents gathered in the Burlington High School cafeteria to learn about the work being done to redesign our schools and to rank which of the 19 Graduate Expectations were most important to them.

In March 2013, two teams of diverse stakeholders-one in Winooski and one in Burlington-were formed with the charge of delving deeper into this work. Guided by Sarah Bertucci, the Partnership’s Personalized and Proficiency-Based Learning fellow, each team combed through the community’s input and relevant research to create first drafts of Graduate Expectations for each city.

This spring, these drafts were shared widely with the public at a second round of 32 neighborhood learning conversations and on the Partnership’s website. We asked the community to provide feedback on the drafts as well as to help us envision how students might learn and demonstrate these Graduate Expectations in our schools. Between the online feedback form and the neighborhood learning conversations, nearly 150 people provided input on the draft Graduate Expectations for Winooski and another 250 provided feedback on the Burlington drafts.

Over the past two months, the Winooski and Burlington Graduate Expectations (GX) teams reconvened, once for a cross-district work retreat and later as individual teams, to finalize the drafts of Graduate Expectations for each city. Although the GX teams took the lead on analyzing the data, synthesizing the research, and writing the drafts, these Graduate Expectations are truly the product of our entire community’s best thinking and hard work.

Next Steps

While these drafts are exciting steps in our process, the journey toward proficiency-based Graduate Expectations in Winooski and Burlington schools does not end here.

“It is critical to understand that these Graduate Expectations are not going to be carved in stone and forgotten,” Sarah said. “There will be continued opportunity for learning, reflection, and feedback about these Graduate Expectations and their implementation next year.”

To start, during this summer’s School Development Institute (SDI), WMHS and BHS faculty will explore and plan how to incorporate the Graduate Expectations into their teaching next year. In July, a group of educators, students, and community partners will visit Eagle Rock School in Colorado to learn from their exceptional example of proficiency-based education. Then, throughout the 2013-14 school year, the Graduate Expectations will be piloted in certain lessons, classes, and programs, beginning with those areas in which students are already learning these critical habits. In conjunction with these pilots, the Partnership will continue to support targeted research and reflection. From this learning, we will be able to add more detail to the Graduate Expectations, particularly about what each means and encompasses.

As the work moves into the piloting and implementation phases, the Partnership will again turn to all of Winooski and Burlington’s parents, teachers, students, business leaders, and community partners for engagement and input. This confidence in the wisdom that exists within our own community is what gives our work the power to endure. With the continued participation of the whole community in the school change process, we can ensure bright and prosperous futures for our young people and, in turn, our cities.

Learn more about the thought process behind each Graudate Expectation for Winooski.

Learn more about the thought process behind each Graudate Expectation for Burlington.