The What, Why, and How of Learner Profiles and Progressions

“This learning opportunity was valuable to us as instructional coaches and I hope to continue the learning on my own journey.” Plymouth-Canton School District Leader

Many districts have turned to the creation of  a leaner/graduate profile in an effort to craft an instructional vision and guide teachers and administrators toward consistencies that students will need for life after high school. The creation of the profile, however, is only step one.

What is a learner/graduate profile? Learner profiles are common language frameworks created by districts, or sometimes by state education agencies. These profiles are meant to guide teaching and learning to best equip students for life after high school. They are not just a pretty graphic to post for the public.

The second, and arguably most important, part of the equation comes after the design and development of a learner profile. Learner progressions take the common language framework of the profile to the next level. They give concrete examples of what teaching and learning looks like across a continuum for each pillar outlined in the learner profile.

What are learner progressions?  Learner progressions are a set of proficiencies along a continuum that guides the implementation of the learner profile in teaching and learning. They are not an evaluative rubric.

Leveraging over a decade of competency-based learning design experience, ALP leads educators in creating a customized district learner profile with aligned learner progressions. This multi-phase process begins with building a shared vision and leads to an iterative design partnership with district and community stakeholders.

With these resources, educational leaders are poised to communicate a clear vision for student success. Through clearly scaffolded progressions, leaders make learning visible and accessible to educators integrating change in their instructional practices. This service directly and positively impacts learner-centered curriculum, assessment, and professional learning frameworks.

Profiles are important to create instructional focus for students and to provide teachers with guidance on where and how to focus instructional efforts. The profile is the “what” and the progression is the “how”. The progression is what moves learning forward.

Many times, however, a learner (or graduate) profile is created by a district or an entire state for their schools and that’s where the work typically stops. The profile looks good on the website but most teachers and students don’t know what to do in order to become proficient in those profile pillars. This becomes a common pitfall that ALP has seen in districts across North America. The “what” has been established, but without a “how” implementation is stilted. Creating the profile, and articulating it across the district sets the foundation needed, however, to take it to the next level. ALP has been invited to partner with many school districts in both phases – the development and/or deployment of a Learner Profile and Progression. Here are a few examples:

Evergreen Public Schools, WA

Evergreen Public Schools sought to articulate a district vision founded on the shared belief that learning drives technology use (and not the other way around). Driven by a moral imperative to address equity and access for all learners, EPS leaders re-envisioned an organizational structure that placed an emphasis on learning design and technology in support of personalized learning.

ALP began working with Evergreen Public Schools in 2025. The partnership started with professional learning around personalized learning. From there, ALP facilitated learning walks which led to the development of look fors. Those processes highlighted the need for learning progressions.  The personalized learner profile and progressions that was developed provided users with a continuum of descriptors of the Essential Elements of a Personalized Learning Environment. As the framework was rolled out, the EPS district leadership communicated interest in tightening up the language to clearly describe the complexity in positive, measurable, continuous, and concise terms. ALP consultants facilitated a series of protocols to further refine the foundation document and begin integration of companion resources. This work is not housed on their Path to Personalized website.

Lake Travis, TX

Beginning in 2013, district leaders at LTISD committed to pushing beyond high test scores, acting on a moral imperative to redefine learning for all students and educators throughout their community. Such a large-scale change effort would require a wide array of systemic shifts and aligned learning experiences for stakeholders across their district and community.

Building on the emerging transformation primed by the NextGen Teacher Cohorts, LTISD partnered with in 2017-18 ALP to craft a learning model that reflected the district’s shared belief and culture around learning and teaching. Working with a cohort of varied stakeholders, ALP led the design and further iterations until LTISD identified four pillars for learning. Each pillar had learning outcomes and essential conditions to enable each student to be prepared for life after high school. As a result, the Learner-Centric Model and its defined commitment to student experiences that are Social, Inspiring, Dynamic, and Empowering became the guiding framework for learning across the district.

REMC and the Michigan Department of Education, MI

ALP & Dell Technologies have partnered with Michigan Department of Education and Regional Educational Media Center Association since 2014 to deliver diverse, advanced pedagogical support to educators across the state. By coordinating these Professional Learning Services through REMC, ALP and Dell Technologies are able to leverage the existing logistical network to reduce cost without compromising district choice regarding high-quality professional learning options.

The Learner Profile and Progression development took on a very specific role in this partnership. Given its robust portfolio of facilitated virtual courses, REMC is favorably positioned to provide additional value to Michigan educators through brand-aligned micro-credentials. Simply defined, micro-credentials are digital badges that signify that an educator has attained a level of mastery around specific knowledge bases and skills. A team of ALP consultants collaborated with REMC leadership to frame project parameters and lead the process for a State-wide implementation of the micro-credential framework.

Davis School District, UT

District leaders in Davis School District recognized that ongoing professional learning is essential to ensure resources are leveraged and capacity is built to amplify personalized learning, evidence-based programming and the development of life skills. In partnership with their teachers and site-based administrators, they sought opportunities to leverage their strategic framework to operationalize their vision to provide an innovative, relevant, well-rounded education for each student.

Several years ago, they had ALP conduct a needs assessment. A critical recommendation from the needs assessment report called on Davis School District leadership to clarify its common language around its personalized learning vision. In partnership with district educators, site administrators and students, a team of ALP consultants facilitated a process that generated clear, concise definitions for critical terms as well as a learner profile. These documents were co-authored by members of the Davis community as a means of building local leadership capacity. The co-creation of this personalized learning framework brought greater clarity to the district vision and helped all stakeholders to ‘see’ themselves in this progressive and highly equitable learning model.

Winchester Public Schools, VA

Students from diverse backgrounds with unique needs rely on Winchester Public Schools to not only prepare but to empower them to thrive in a rapidly changing world.  The division’s strident focus on achieving equity for all learners is bolstered by its vision, mission, and Empower 2025 Goals. ALP collaborated with division leaders to operationalize the Empower 2025 vision through strategic planning, transparent monitoring systems, learning model development, and professional learning opportunities for site-based leaders and teachers.

The Winchester community is committed to ensuring ALL students have the knowledge, skills and dispositions to embrace rigorous challenges and enrich their civic community. In collaboration with ALP consultants, WPS leadership invited teachers, students, administrators and community leaders to engage in an iterative design process to develop an Empowered Learning Model with supporting learner progressions that drive learning, teaching and leading across the division. The Empowered Learning Model became the foundation for the development of the next strategic plan.


Each district’s learner profile and progression is unique to the district’s needs, goals, and mission. ALP helps shape those driving factors into a usable resource to increase positive impact for students in every grade and class. Does your district have a common language framework driving teaching and learning? We invite you to reach out to discuss what you have in place or what you need to get started.

“I think using common language and creating intention around the whole learner is a good start and good direction for our district. The potential for Learner Profiles to be the driving force of our instruction is there. However, the district needs to provide well-designed, intentional instruction for every level of educator and administrator to help show and SELL the purpose and value of this information. The district needs to emphasize to its people why THEY should be placing an emphasis on it.” Kennewick School District Leader




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