Graduation Performance System

How do students find their way in the world?

And how can educators lead them?

With GPS.

What is GPS?

Our Graduation Performance System, or GPS, guides students towards the development and demonstration of Global Competence. The GPS enables teachers to teach for global competence while also meeting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

The GPS has been tested and refined over the past several years in Asia Society’s International Studies Schools Network. In our view, the GPS is what high-quality curriculum, instruction, and assessment look like.

The GPS includes:

  • Performance outcomes and rubrics that provide a clear definition of “what success looks like” by delineating the knowledge, skills, and dispositions students need to be college and career ready and globally competent. These performance outcomes are intentionally aligned to the CCSS.
  • A framework for the design of curriculum, instruction, and assessment that engages students in solving complex, real-world problems, and provides multiple opportunities to demonstrate growing mastery.
  • A process for teachers and students to assess and reflect on their work.
  • A platform for teachers to share best practices and receive feedback on their work.


How does the GPS work?


GPS Performance Cycle

GPS Performance Cycle


The GPS performance cycle – the iterative process at the heart of the GPS – is a research-based cycle in which teachers:

  • Design and implement quality learning modules with embedded formative and summative performance tasks
  • Rate student work based on evidence of proficiency in the performance outcomes and other state standards
  • Provide feedback to students that helps them progress towards proficiency.
  • Refine and customize their own instruction based on its effectiveness in promoting students’ deeper learning.

The GPS performance cycle is a continuous improvement process that repeats across the curriculum, and happens in school and in out-of-school time through afterschool and summer programs. Rather than looking at an assessment as a final judgment of whether a student “gets it” or whether a teacher has succeeded or failed, the GPS performance cycle fosters a mindset of continuous learning and improvement.

The GPS cycle reflects the underlying philosophy that both educators and students are always learning and improving. Therefore, they need frequent opportunities to practice, assess their work, and adjust.

What does GPS look like in the classroom?


GPS is Rigorous

GPS modules provide authentic learning experiences that support students in becoming both globally competent and college and career ready. For 12th grade, 10th grade, 8th grade, and 5th grade, we have developed GPS performance outcomes, rubrics, and “I Can” statements that measure what students in each of these grades must be able to do in order to demonstrate their achievement of global competence.

A study led by The Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC) found that students who master Asia Society’s GPS performance outcomes in ELA and Math would be expected to significantly increase mastery of the CCSS.

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GPS is Relevant

GPS modules help teachers design inquiry-based and project-based learning activities with embedded performance assessment tasks that provide students with multiple opportunities to develop and demonstrate their growing proficiency. This form of student-centered teaching and learning focuses on students’ interests and needs, by offering them opportunities to not only acquire knowledge and skills but also apply them in a global context. This involves designing authentic learning experiences that connect to local and global issues, regularly and collaboratively looking at student work, and an ongoing feedback cycle based on demonstrated evidence of how each student is developing and demonstrating global competence and college and career readiness.

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GPS is Globally Significant

GPS modules integrate the deeper learning experiences students need to become globally competent youth and adults based on the four domains of Global Competence:

  1. Investigate the world beyond their immediate environment, framing significant problems and conducting well-crafted and age-appropriate research.
  2. Recognize perspectives, others’ and their own, articulating and explaining such perspectives thoughtfully and respectfully.
  3. Communicate ideas effectively with diverse audiences, bridging geographic, linguistic, ideological, and cultural barriers.
  4. Take action to improve conditions, viewing themselves as players in the world and participating reflectively.

The four domains of global competence constitute the organizing framework for all GPS performance outcomes in all content areas, providing subject-specific criteria for globally-focused instruction in English Language Arts, History/Social Studies, Mathematics, Science, Arts and World Language, as well as a cross-cutting set of global leadership performance outcomes.

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What is the GPS Portfolio?

The GPS portfolio contains the student work that results from multiple performance cycles across all courses and learning experiences, charting student growth and proficiency in relation to their own individual performance, but also in relation to mastery of the CCSS and the full set of global competence performance outcomes.

In schools implementing the GPS, teachers and students will work together to design, complete, select, and reflect on performance assessment tasks that align to the GPS performance outcomes and that resulted in increasingly proficient student work. Thus, the GPS portfolio will include student work that teachers have assess against the GPS performance outcomes using the GPS rubrics, a well as student reflection on their learning and growth in relation to these performance outcomes.


The GPS portfolio represents a process by which students develop, select, and reflect on a body of their own work that demonstrates their proficiency in global competence and key aspects of college and career readiness. GPS portfolios are aligned to the four domains of Global Competence represented in the GPS performance outcomes – Investigate the World, Recognize Perspectives, Communicate Ideas, and Take Action – and therefore help schools validate that students are globally competent by graduation.

The main purpose of the GPS portfolio is to evaluate what standardized tests cannot: the student’s development of 21st century skills, such as critical thinking and collaborative problem solving and their progress towards achieving global competence.

While the GPS tasks and performance outcomes are aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), their achievement of the CCSS will be measured through other means, such as state tests, and their progress towards achieving global competence will be measured through their GPS portfolio.


As noted above, the  Graduation Performance System was piloted and refined within Asia Society’s International Studies Schools Network (ISSN). Now that we have move past piloting the GPS and are implementing it in network schools, we have several other innovations that are currently in the piloting phase. Within the ISSN and using the GPS as the methodology and mechanism, we are currently piloting two innovative initiatives. These innovations are currently in the piloting or research and development phase and are only open to ISSN members.

Mastery- Based Systems

Educators and school systems throughout the country are striving to integrate and utilize exciting new policies and teaching strategies to personalize learning and enable students to progress upon mastery of competencies. We are working with several schools within our International Studies Schools Network to utilize the Graduation Performance System (GPS) as the foundation for a mastery-based system.

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Global Leadership Badges 

Badges provide a clear way for an individual to represent a skill or competency he or she has mastered and allow teachers and potential employers to better understand a candidate’s level of proficiency in the required skills. Currently, we are working to create a badging system that is aligned to the Graduation Performance system through which students within the International Studies Schools Network can demonstrate their achievement of the GPS Global Leadership Performance Outcomes.

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