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


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

  • mom2andmom2and Registered User Posts: 2,159 Senior Member
    There were colleges that tried this in the past. UC Santa Cruz in the beginning had no grades, only portfolios. However, the students had trouble getting into grad schools (esp med and law school) and the college started giving grades in some courses and I believe then went to regular grades over time.


    Similar issues for big high schools. How can a teacher realistically differentiate among the 100 kids taking biology without using grades? What would the comments be for the 50 kids that got a B or B+? I don't believe this would change competition either. The highly motivated kids would still want to get the evaluation that says "Suzy is one of the top students out of the 100 I taught this year".
  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes Registered User Posts: 32,524 Senior Member
    That's not true that once a motivator is removed, we'll stop doing it. In fact, any trainer of animals (and humans are animals) will tell you that they'll keep doing the trick or behavior long after rewards are removed. (Though giving an occasional reward does help with retention.)

    Some people need grades as motivators. Some don't. That doesn't mean at all that we'll collapse if they're gone.

    I openly admit that in many of my courses, I really just cared about the grade. Same as many of my grad school friends. Now that we have written evals instead of grades, there's been no collapse in motivation. Even after the written evals are done.

    On the other hand, there are others who only care about the grade so they can get whatever degree because they need the credentials. Yes, for them the motivation may collapse because they had no real motivation in the first place other than they were told they needed the grade. But they'll more likely just put their energy towards the new requirements to get the degree.

    My high school had over 6k people. Written evals are not even in the realm of possibility.
  • eiholieiholi Registered User Posts: 312 Member
    I agree with @compmom this (giving no grades) could be a great idea. It should work if they get rid of the coachable standardized tests (SAT/ACT) as well. Instead, each college can offer a 2-hr mixed subject test made by freshmen class professors with a few questions from math, English, CS, arts, etc., with no need for preparation. Low degree of agreement between HS evaluation and the college test leads an application to the trash bin. That saves HS students on test preps and test taking unless one wants to apply to too many colleges.
  • rhandcorhandco Registered User Posts: 4,275 Senior Member
    A teacher has to have something to support a letter grade. Completely holistic assessments require two things to be taken seriously:
    - a high school with an excellent national or worldwide reputation
    - a real ranking of students

    That last point, which harkens to letters of recommendation, is a stickler. You can imagine that they will be ranking students as follows:
    - top 5% of all students taught
    - top 10% of all students taught
    - top 20% of all student taught
    - not ranked

    So will every single student at these top prep high school be above average? Will Harvard take someone with no grades who is not ranked = "bottom 80% of students"?

    It seems like an ego trip to me, another elitist excuse for "everybody gets a trophy".
  • DolemiteDolemite Registered User Posts: 1,589 Senior Member
    I think they should change the way they are teaching before changing the way they evaluate.
  • TooOld4SchoolTooOld4School Registered User Posts: 2,756 Senior Member
    This is a natural extension of holistic admissions. It puts more of a burden on the private HS to evaluate and humanize a particular student, and will give admission committees more information than kids from public schools. Makes sense to me.
  • mom2andmom2and Registered User Posts: 2,159 Senior Member
    Re: #19: How quickly would the SAT/ACT test prep industry turn to college entrance tests? Almost immediately. No way to avoid test prep and gaming the system. It certainly seems that 3-4 years of grades is more informative than 1 2 hour test.
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 8,218 Senior Member
    I don't know what I am allowed to post but if anyone is interested in this issue, I think Alfie Kohn's books and DVD's are a great resource.
  • TheGFGTheGFG Registered User Posts: 6,192 Senior Member
    edited June 9
    ^ Speaking of guidance counselors, none of my 3 kids finished high school with the same GC they started with. The GC who took care of college stuff for D2 didn't start work until late October of D2's senior year, after the previous one retired suddenly. She not only didn't know my D at all; she wasn't even familiar with the workings of the school and the academic environment here. The less we trust subjective school assessments, the better in my opinion. Furthermore, there is a lot of small town politics and values that can come into play when evaluating a student. My kids always were much more highly valued outside the walls of the high school than within--something that was obvious at scholarship night this year. The scholarship committee at the local corporation doesn't care if Susie's dad coached soccer, or if Josh's mom was PTO President, and has no way of knowing how pretty or handsome a student is.

    Furthermore, there are some very smart and talented kids who do a great job of communicating to others that they are smart and talented. I'm not saying they're arrogant, but maybe just more chatty, personable or outgoing. The two girls who got val and sal this year at D's school were not who everyone expected to get it. The class superstar ended up not actually having the highest GPA after all, though I am sure if you had taken a poll of the teachers a year ago, they'd have said he'd be the val. D certainly thought he would be! But test scores and other grades settled the matter differently.
  • CaucAsianDadCaucAsianDad Registered User Posts: 615 Member
    It is the ultimate extension of the "everyone gets a trophy" mentality.

    That was my thought also @Zinhead

    I think some expense private schools are not comfortable with a system where some students can be perceived to be under achievers. Why would a parent pay $20K+ for their kid to be in the bottom 25% of the class?

    So a system that "is designed to avoid not only grades but class rank" and "each high school would be required to come up with its own system for evaluating student knowledge and skills" could easily become a system where everybody is a winner.

    I thought the combination of the following concepts was very telling.

    1) more colleges drop standardized-test requirements

    2) no grades and no standardization

    3) if public schools lag a bit in producing these new mastery transcripts, teachers at his school (and others) could review portfolios of their work and certify their masteries.

    OK, so we get rid of standards altogether and have the private schools evaluate the public schools students. :-q
  • tutumom2001tutumom2001 Registered User Posts: 558 Member
    edited June 9
    When you have an elite college such as Harvard evaluating 40,000 applicants for 2,500 spots, there is going to have to be some kind of measurement, and even a "qualitative" measurement will have 40,000 potential students trying to figure out the methodology for gaining admittance. (https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parents-forum/1995873-what-exactly-are-individual-top-colleges-looking-for.html#latest) Not to mention the fact that once these 100 private schools figure out a way to spread their idea to close to 40,000 other public and private high schools in the US alone, their methodology then becomes standardized to the point where quantitative methodology then becomes required.

    And, maybe it's just me, but some of those specific ideas look very similar to various common core standards throughout the grades. And we all know how that turned out nationwide.
  • ChoatieMomChoatieMom Registered User Posts: 3,624 Senior Member
    Why would a parent pay $20K+ for their kid to be in the bottom 25% of the class?

    At our son's school, about 50% of parents paid $200K+ (four years, non-FA) for their child to be in the bottom 50% of the class. The entire class did fine come college time.
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