Redefining Student Success with the Student Performance Framework

Redefining Student Success with the Student Performance Framework

High schools shape the daily lives—and create the foundation for the future success—of more than 15 million students, their families, and communities every day. Do our high schools truly prepare all students for good jobs, successful careers, and real life? Are young people graduating with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions they need to thrive in today’s complex and rapidly changing world? 

Not yet.

Students need learning that’s different from what they experience in most American high schools—more rigorous, more multidisciplinary, better designed to apply what we know from the science of learning about vast opportunities for cognitive, social-emotional, and academic growth during the high school years.

The XQ Learner Outcomes

Students need learning experiences that support them in achieving the XQ Learner Outcomes

  • Original thinkers for an uncertain world
  • Masters of all fundamental literacies
  • Holders of foundational knowledge
  • Generous collaborators for tough problems
  • Learners for life

These aspirational, research-based outcomes describe what all students must know and be able to do in order to thrive in the future—college or other postsecondary education, careers, and all the opportunities life has to offer. It’s the job of high schools to prepare all students across all the key dimensions of adolescent development: academic knowledge, cognitive skills, and social-emotional capacities, along with real-world success skills.

But if most high schools today are not set up to provide the engaging and rigorous learning experiences students need to thrive, how do we—as educators, as families, as communities, as students—start making the changes our schools and students need? Optimizing high schools to achieve that goal means going to the root of what we mean when we say “school.” To start, we’ve created the Student Performance Framework, a comprehensive, work-in-progress resource that defines student success not by test scores or Carnegie units, but by the achievement of the XQ Learner Outcomes.

What Is the Student Performance Framework?

Drawing on research, existing academic and social-emotional frameworks, and practical expertise, we’ve identified a set of competencies and sub-competencies that align with the five XQ Learner Outcomes. Within each sub-competency, a series of skill-based, cognitive, and social-emotional progressions offers a new way to assess, document, and certify students’ learning, measured against concrete milestones for acquiring the knowledge and skills needed for future success. 

The Student Performance Framework purposefully integrates academic knowledge, cognitive skills, and social-emotional competencies in a way that we believe is powerful and unique, because learning needs to incorporate and cultivate all three. We started with competencies and areas of learning that were missing from existing standards regimes and curricula—like civics and arts—and built the framework to live alongside and be integrated with existing core content standards. 

Ultimately, we believe the Student Performance Framework can be a cornerstone for educators and communities as they develop learning experiences and high school models that deliver the XQ Learner Outcomes for all learners. A framework like this has the potential to change everything: how we teach, our expectations for students, how assessment works, and, most important, how students experience school.

There are four steps educators can take to expand and deepen student learning in alignment with the Student Performance Framework.

  1. Embed the framework deeply into every minute of school. The outcomes aren’t just academic; they include cognitive and social-emotional development. They give schools a way to plot growth through all the essential competencies in an integrated way.
  2. Rethink the learning experiences for students. Where and how can students grow their academic learning AND social-emotional capacities AND cognitive skills—so they’re truly ready for success in life? Learning experiences like this can cut across every subject.
  3. Design beyond the usual constraints. Rigorous learning can happen anywhere, anytime. Experiences that cross disciplines, that take place outside school, that young people choose for themselves—all can be powerful opportunities to learn. There’s no reason why that learning can’t be recognized and credentialed.
  4. Build an enriched record of students’ growth and success. Evidence of learning from across these dimensions can come together into a transcript that reflects a student’s whole body of work, development, and achievement.

This framework implies not just a different way of teaching and learning, but a whole new way of capturing and certifying that learning. So we’re also working on a dynamic new student transcript to accompany the framework. The goal here is to provide a more complete and compelling record of students’ high school development and accomplishments. Together, these shifts add up to a whole new way to think about students and what they need from their high schools.

Learn More

XQ and our partners—researchers, policymakers, educators, and students—will continue to develop the Student Performance Framework throughout the year, with a focus on more clearly articulating indicators across the Learner Outcomes and a commitment to cross-referencing the Student Performance Framework with existing content standards. There’s plenty more work to be done, but we are excited to get started!

Preview the framework and reach out if you’re interested in learning more: [email protected]