Beta Testing a Mastery-Based Transcript
Currently in education the standard way to summarize four years of a high school student’s hard work is to reduce it to a single number: the GPA. But what if a learning community values (and measures) not only academics but also social and emotional factors like purpose, transferable skills like creativity, and global competencies like social capital? How can they display progress in ways colleges and employers relate?
Of late, we’ve been inspired by the Mastery Transcript Consortium (MTC), a growing network of public and private schools working to create a high school transcript that reflects the unique skills, strengths, and interests of each learner. We’re thrilled to share that one of our partner schools—The Forest School: An Acton Academy in south Atlanta—is one of nine beta testers for MTC’s first ever transcript, which will arrive to college admissions offices next year.
The Forest School is an independent micro-school (grades 1-12) with learner-driven technology, Socratic discussions, hands-on projects, and real-world apprenticeships in an intentionally diverse and character-forging community. After researching Transcend’s Graduate Aims Database, Finland’s transversal competences, and Next Gen Learning’s MyWays framework, Forest leaders built their graduate profile and mastery credits in collaboration with families and learners and later sought feedback from 20+ Yellow Hats League members and 10+ college admissions officers. Currently the team at Forest is finalizing their mastery credit architecture, uploading student data, and exploring interoperability capabilities with MTC so that transcripts can be issued this Fall.
For Forest and other MTC piloteers, it’s not the transcript alone—but the beliefs, mindsets, and structures behind it—that are game changers. Whereas the traditional transcript encourages the separation of disciplines in an increasingly interdisciplinary world and often ignores the development of skills and character traits, a mastery transcript highlights both content and interdisciplinary skills and reflects learning that is deeply personalized, learner-driven, based in authentic engagement and designed to educate the whole child.
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