A Strategic Lever for Change
Changing the content and format of the high school transcript (and regular report cards that roll up into the transcript) would serve as a powerful lever to drive an evolution in education that our young people deserve and our society needs. Doing so has potential to propel us into the future. Students, communities, colleges and universities, and society at large would be better served with a new kind of high school transcript that reports on the skills, competencies, and mindsets that matter most. The massive disruption created by the Coronavirus has (at least temporarily) given us a reprieve from grades and test scores. That makes now an optimal time to re-evaluate and revamp our form of educational currency.
Since the high school transcript is the currency of education, modifying it would serve as a strategic lever to force a shift in the way students present themselves, and correspondingly, the way in which colleges and universities assess their qualifications. The oft-cited adage, “what gets tested, gets taught” is only partially true. Even more so, what gets reported (to colleges, education agencies, school boards, parents) gets taught. Thus we can rest assured that, over time, a change in the content and format of the high school transcript would have a domino effect. Such a change has the potential to shift the priorities of the education system, including the approaches to student assessment and school accountability, the instructional methods used by teachers, the professional growth for current teachers, and pre-service training of new teachers.
Best of all, as these shifts happen, teachers will be compelled to facilitate more engaging, student-centered, and authentic learning experiences – i.e., project-based, experiential learning. These approaches require essential skills, such as collaboration, resource management, project planning, critical inquiry and analysis, creativity and innovation, and more. Over time, more educators will affirm that how students learn is more important than what they learn if we want to achieve the outcomes that truly serve our collective future.