Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Plan to Kill High School Transcripts … and Transform College Admissions

One of the things that I notice teaching and working with both MS and HS students, is the change that happens from MS to HS- between grade 8-9th grade in terms of excitement for learning. 8th graders are excited about learning and trying new things. But when they become 9th graders they are not nearly as excited. The change is instantaneous. Why? In my opinion, HS students and 9th graders, understand that there are 4 years of high-stakes grading that goes on transcripts to colleges. Teachers are not as warm and fuzzy and expectations are higher at home and school. It is now time to jump through hoops, where everything counts towards that GPA and life after college.... They lose sleep, and get increasingly stressed out to the detriment of mental and physical health.

Now, some schools are taking it upon themselves to change that culture. This article from Inside Higher Ed, talks about some top private high schools that are trying to change that culture.

What if traditional high school transcripts -- lists of courses taken, grades earned and so forth -- didn't exist?
That's the ambition of a new education reform movement, which wants to rebuild how high schools record the abilities of students -- and in turn to change the way colleges evaluate applicants. Sounds like quite a task. But the idea is from a group with considerable clout and money: more than 100 private schools around the country, including such elite institutions as the Dalton School and the Spence School in New York City, plus such big guns as the Cranbrook Schools in Michigan, the Phillips Academy in Massachusetts and Miss Porter's School in Connecticut. The group is called the Mastery Transcript Consortium, and the product it hopes to create is the mastery transcript. It would not include courses or grades, but levels of proficiency in various areas. Instead of saying a student earned a certain grade in Spanish 2, the mastery transcript might say the student can understand and express ideas in some number of languages. And there could be different levels of mastery. 
I love this idea and I look forward to see where it takes schools.