We should all use the term “game-changer” sparingly in education, and probably always preceded by the qualifier “potential. But I believe that the Mastery Transcript Consortium is one of these. When founder Scott Looney first contacted me to discuss this idea more than two years ago, I told him that it deserved this kind of attention for a number of reasons, many of which have captured the imagination of a growing number of educators who dream of the day when we can actually assess students on progress towards things we value, instead of largely meaningless grades and standardized tests.
Yesterday the Mastery Transcript Consortium announced that they had won a hard-fought and much-sought-after $2 million grant from the EE Ford Foundation, which must rank as one of the largest single grants ever awarded to an independent school. With the matching funds committed via many of the 90+ schools that have already joined the Consortium, they now have the resources to move forward with re-designing a new high school transcript in ways that will be authentic to what we value as educators, as well as useful and acceptable by college and university offices of admission.
With this grant in place, the challenges I pose to the MTC are these: With such a large, and growing number of member schools, how will you ensure that the initial goals are not “watered down”? Will the group push through the inevitable resistance to real change in high school assessment practices? How will you gather input from the much larger public school community, who will be able to access the work in the future?
I know enough about those involved that I believe the MTC will meet these challenges. In my upcoming book, Moving the Rock, I explore levers that will really transform K-12 education that don’t need permission from the forces that have created the inertia in our system in the first place. I dedicate a chapter to high school assessment and college admissions, and the MTC is Exhibit 1. We all have a huge stake in what they are trying to do.
My advice: if you are an independent school, join. If you can’t join now, you will be able to soon, so prepare your community with discussions around this topic. Connect with local colleges, or college reps who seek out your students and let them know that his is a critical direction for the future, and that colleges need to be ready to get on board.