Education

Here’s How Some Private Schools Want To Replace Letter Grades

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Rob Shimshock Education Reporter
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Some private schools are discussing how to replace traditional letter grade systems with a more qualitative means of measuring students’ aptitude, according to a Sunday report.

Phillips Andover Academy, Miss Porter’s School Home, and over 150 other private schools are considering implementing an alternative to letter grades called the Mastery Transcript Consortium, reported The Washington Post. Proponents of the program hope to facilitate projects that will judge personality traits of students.

A sample of the consortium model displays “featured credits” of a hypothetical student, including the student’s ability to “lead through influence,” “implement decisions and meet goals,” and “foster integrity, honesty, fairness and respect.”

“This model calls for students to demonstrate a mastery of skills, knowledge and habits of mind by presenting evidence that is then assessed against an institutionally specific standard of mastery,” explains the consortium. “The Mastery Transcript model is organized around performance areas (rather than academic departments), mastery standards and micro-credits (rather than grades). Each micro-credit applied to a transcript signifies complete mastery of a specific skill, knowledge block or habit of mind as defined by the crediting high school.”

Unlike the letter grade system, the consortium would provide students with more advice on how to improve, D. Scott Looney told WaPo. He also said college admissions personnel could get through the new transcript in two minutes, with a glimpse at student work being available in just a few clicks.

“Just last year 71 colleges and universities in New England signed an agreement stating that they will not discriminate against competency-based diplomas,” Terry Dubow, a spokesman for the consortium, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Colleges and universities are dealing with mental health issues from students who’ve been chasing grades and the college acceptance letter for their entire childhoods. Colleges are also encountering students who lack skills with critical thinking, ambiguity and transference of knowledge.”

“We all know that a GPA reveals precious little about a student. It is a blunt, inaccurate and corrupted tool that many students chase for all the wrong reasons,” continued the spokesman. “The MTC is about improving student learning and decreasing the psychological and emotional damage of a system that is ill-equipped to prepare students for our changed world.”

The Mastery Transcript Consortium still plans to use SAT and Advanced Placement tests.

This posted has been updated to include a comment from Mastery Transcript Consortium spokesperson.

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