The Need For A New Credential
As high school educators, we have become increasingly aware that the graduates we feel the most proud of, the ones we would most like to work with as future colleagues, the ones we feel are most deserving of rich opportunities, are often not the students who have the highest grades. Fundamentally, if the students whose achievement we feel most proud of are not the students achieving highest on our scales of measurement, then we cannot be measuring what we truly value. The Global Citizen Diploma was created to document achievement according to what we most feel an education, and in particular an international school education, should provide.

Academics Included
The Global Citizen Diploma is not an extra-curricular diploma. Academics are a key part of the GCD, but the GCD provides an opportunity to describe students’ academic learning qualitatively. The Academics element is positioned as a value and represents completion of an accredited curriculum at a GCD school. It means that students have the breadth of knowledge and thinking skills required to make informed decisions and be active participants in their society. As a competency, we have made space with Academic Skills for students to describe their interdisciplinary learning skills, rather than relying on subject-oriented assessment of academic ability. Research, Reflection, Organization, Collaboration and Inquiry are skills students can describe in demonstration not of their content knowledge, but of their ability to learn. Advanced Academics provides an opportunity for students are uncommonly good at some aspect of academic study to explain how and why.

{Click here to learn more about the Structure and Elements of the GCD}


Students earn the GCD through a process of reflection. We recognize that not all valuable learning happens in the classroom, so students are invited to reflect on any experience they have had in during high school that has resulted in important learning. They are encouraged to synthesize learning across disciplines and make sense of their own education, understanding not only what they have learned, but why it matters. Because GCD candidates are engaged in this meta-cognitive process throughout their high school years, we are confident that when they graduate, they will have a deep understanding of themselves, and the world around them, and the ability to tell their story.

A Portfolio of Learning
Over the course of their high school experience, students collect the evidence of their learning and records of their reflection in a publicly accessible, online portfolio. When they feel that their experience and reflection meets the criteria for a GCD element, they invite a reviewer to assess their posts. At the end of their diploma, students curate a selection of no more than five of their most profound reflections to share in a GCD Showcase. The link to this showcase is shared by school counselors in whatever way befits the university the student is applying to, most often in a letter of recommendation.
Achievements in the Global Citizen Diploma are printed on each student’s transcript. If the diploma is earned prior to graduation, the credential and Academics element will be listed as “pending”. The final transcript will reflect confirmation upon graduation. All of the values, competencies and areas of expertise that a student earns will be listed with their credential on the transcript.

Authenticity, Validity & Verification
When students apply to university and write application essays, they are trying to impress. They show up with their tuxedo on, which is not necessarily who they are at any other time. Because GCD portfolios are built throughout high school, and because they are reviewed by faculty who know the students and their families, it is difficult for students present a particularly shiny version of themselves that is, perhaps, overly optimistic.

While the bulk of any GCD post should focus on what students have learned, they are required to provide evidence of having had the learning experiences they cite. This is particularly important when students describe learning that took place outside of school. If reviewers are uncertain of something that they see in student post, they can go and have a conversation with the student about it, talk to the family if necessary and help the student support their post with compelling evidence. If an element has been approved, we are confident that the reviewer has verified the contents before validating the learning.

Turning the Tide

The Global Citizen Diploma Consortium of schools was pleased to read the Turning the Tide report. The assertion that university admissions can make the world a more caring one by valuing more than high grades, is an impulse closely aligned to the one that made us create the Global Citizen Diploma in the first place.

So often, when our teachers assign students a task, their first response is to ask, is this for grades? It is difficult to teach the value of respecting diversity, for example, where there is no tangible reward for it. We created the Global Citizen Diploma to make the fact that we value the qualities of global citizenship official. If students see that being a better citizen will be important in the process of getting into university, it allows us to be even more intentional about teaching these non-curricular skills and attitudes.

It is not enough to be smart. In a global community, our sense of social responsibility is as important as our intelligence.

{Click here to learn more about the Structure and Elements of the GCD}