The End of the Traditional High School Transcript?


May 12, 2017 – Here’s our weekly roundup of education news you may have missed. The College Board says that access to SAT coaching leads to higher scores; a study shows most Americans are dissatisfied with how higher education treats students; and an expert describes myths about Pell Grants. 

Elementary & Secondary Education

  • More than 100 elite private high schools plan to eliminate traditional high school transcripts in favor of a “mastery transcript.” Developed by a group called the Mastery Transcript Consortium, the evaluation replaces letter grades with competency-based evaluations that “make it impossible to distill a student into a single number,” Inside Higher Ed reports. The consortium hopes that the mastery transcript will eventually become adopted by public high schools and make college admissions more holistic. 
  • For years the College Board has denied that coaching improves scores on the SAT, but now the organization has announced that coaching is helpful. New College Board data shows that 20 hours of SAT coaching is associated with an average score gain of 115 points. The change in position follows the College Board’s recent SAT redesign and partnership with Khan Academy to offer free SAT coaching online, the Washington Post reports.


Higher Education

  • A study from New America, a Washington think tank, shows that most Americans think that higher education is valuable but are unhappy with its treatment of students. Over half of respondents think that colleges put their own interests above students. Inside Higher Ed summarizes. 
  • Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, writes an opinion piece on LinkedIn headlined “Debunking Five Myths Behind the Pell Grant.”  He says that: most high-scoring Pell Grant recipients would do well at selective colleges; many selective colleges have big budget surpluses that could be used to provide more need-based financial aid; Pell recipients make up a majority of students at half of colleges; and Pell Grants cover only a small portion of college costs. 
  • A grant from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation is designed to find a better pathway for community college students to transfer to four-year institutions, Inside Higher Ed reports. Community college students, particularly those from low-income backgrounds, face significant barriers in transferring to and graduating from four-year institutions. 
  • A new report from researchers at University of Southern California and University of Wisconsin–Madison shows that the excellence gap between low-income students and their higher-income peers persists into graduate school.

Cooke Foundation Highlights

  • Newly selected Cooke College Scholar Gabriella Blatt – who will go from a Native American reservation in Montana to Yale University in the fall – is featured in the Great Falls Tribune and other newspapers in the USA Today network. 
  • Michael Bradford, who will attend Georgia Tech this fall as an Undergraduate Transfer Scholar, shares his story with the Gwinnett Citizen. The Cooke Scholarship “has given me a new lease on life,” he says, “I can now do much better for myself and my family… I will pay this forward.” 

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