The 2019-2020 school year provided a particularly significant milestone for MTC and our theory of change. The Mastery Transcript Pilot officially launched in the fall of 2019 when the first students applied to college using the new transcript. While students’ backgrounds, schools, and ambitions were diverse and varied, one thing was very clear: their learning experiences and the transcript itself helped them to showcase who they are, what they can contribute to a complex world, and how a new transcript can bring important change. Amy Yuan, a recent graduate of Gibson Ek High School, who plans to attend Claremont McKenna College, commented:
“The Mastery Transcript was part of a culture that is really cultivated at our school, where students are encouraged to develop and express their own interests. There was also a heavy emphasis on real-world learning, and I enjoyed being able to grow my projects in ways that go beyond myself and are bigger and more beneficial to the wider community.”
Our MTC founder, Scott Looney, has often said, “We will know this new transcript works when the first college is able to use it.” This past year demonstrated that and so much more: about 60 different two and four-year colleges sent offers of admission to students who used the Mastery Transcript as part of their applications.
And our work didn’t stop there. We continued to collaborate closely with our Higher Ed Advisory Group and a range of admissions colleagues on user testing, feedback sessions, and opportunities to spread the word about the new transcript more generally. Recently we launched a post-pilot higher-ed research project to collect even more detailed feedback from a broad swath of college admissions leaders throughout the country. Ultimately the goals are to make the Mastery Transcript even more useful to admissions readers and to help them gain more firsthand experience with it. This year we will more than triple the number of schools using the Mastery Transcript for college admissions
College admissions embraced many other opportunities for change during the past several months. Responding to the times, our friends at Making Caring Common at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education put out this statement on shared values during COVID-19, along with more than 350 deans of admissions; in a follow-up Harvard Gazette article, they further predicted that more high schools and colleges will start to use the Mastery Transcript in a shift toward honoring the development of students’ knowledge and skills.
Certainly your school faces no shortage of challenges in planning for the year ahead. MTC is here to support you; and remember you have a network of member schools to draw upon for shared wisdom. Continue to log on to community.mastery.org for resources and to connect with the MTC team and colleagues from across the network.
During a recent meeting for new member schools, it was uplifting to hear several site directors discussing the idea of working together to deepen anti-racist work in their schools. We look forward to learning and sharing more in the coming months, and of course welcome additional insights into how we can best support your work.
Following on MTC’s statement of steadfast support for the Black Lives Matter movement, we are also working as an organization to ensure we carry out our own deep commitments to fostering a more just, equitable, and inclusive society: overcoming barriers of equitable participation in the Consortium and reflecting the full diversity of our country; continuing to design the transcript for equity; showcasing how mastery learning empowers all students to reach their full potential; and contributing to the larger ecosystem for change.
Given the COVID-19 disruption, your school may see an opportunity in 2020-2021 to accelerate the shift to mastery learning and the Mastery Transcript. Or you may want to continue along the journey you've already laid out. No matter where you are, there are a number of member opportunities designed to support your work, including:
As your school charts its course forward into an uncertain fall and winter, we send best wishes for all within your communities to stay safe and sound. I hope MTC and our network of peer schools can continue to be a well-spring of strength and inspiration, and as always welcome your good ideas and feedback.
Stacy Caldwell, CEO
Mastery Transcript Consortium®