MTC Theory of Action

By December 1, 2019 No Comments
Getting Our Signals Straight for Students

In partnership with Chris Sturgis and her coauthor Katherine Casey, MTC is developing a series of publications for members and schools considering membership. The first volume is our theory of action paper, “Getting Our Signals Straight for Students.”

“In partnership with our members and allies, we are redesigning the high school transcript so that the interests of students, high schools, and higher education are aligned. The Mastery Transcript™ values the higher order skills necessary for success in college and career. It conveys to admissions officers a deeper, more authentic story about a student: who they are, what they have learned, how they have grown, what they love, and who they want to be.” Stacy Caldwell, CEO, Mastery Transcript Consortium

The transition from high school to college marks a moment of monumental and exciting change for students and families, but it represents an equally monumental impediment to positive change in high schools and higher education. College admissions rely upon an outdated and outmoded means of communicating student learning: the traditional high school transcript. This reliance reinforces a century old model of education and impedes the innovation that is sorely needed if we are, as a nation, to prepare all students for the evolving worlds of college, career, and life. At the Mastery Transcript Consortium™ (MTC), the “why” of our work is clear: the status quo is failing our students. The high school transcript reduces students to a list of course grades and a Grade Point Average (GPA) that tell us very little about who they are today, and even less about who they could be tomorrow. Yet, the high school transcript continues to be the primary means of representing a student within the college admissions process, and plays a powerful role in establishing what “counts” as learning and who is “competitive” for college. The outsized power of the traditional transcript reinforces outdated modes of education, constrains innovation, and impedes the pursuit of educational equity. Moreover, it constrains our ability as a nation to prepare all students with the knowledge and skills they will need if they are to rise to the dynamic challenges and opportunities of a world we cannot yet imagine.

The following paper describes our “how:” MTC is realigning the path from high school to college. MTC is bringing high schools and colleges together around new visions for learning in order to reinvent how students prepare for their futures. MTC is more than an organization. MTC is a network of high school and higher education leaders committed to true educational equity: ensuring all students experience education that develops their gifts and prepares them to thrive on a course of their choosing. Achieving equity and opportunities for success for all requires a collective, sustained effort by communities, organizations, and institutions across the country. MTC contributes to this collective effort by addressing one strategic point of leverage: the high school transcript. This paper describes how the high school transcript operates as a lever for change and how MTC is using this lever to mobilize high schools and higher education for lasting systemic impact.

Learn More

Download the “Getting Our Signals Straight for Students” paper now to learn more, and feel free to share it with your colleagues.

Are you interested in becoming a member of MTC? We’d love to hear from you, and set up an initial conversation. By joining MTC, you can be part of a dynamic network of schools that are leading the way to reimagining high school. Get in touch today. Current MTC members are encouraged to log in to our members-only platform,, for ongoing conversations and feedback.


About Chris Sturgis

Chris Sturgis is principal of LearningEdge, a consulting firm based in Santa Fe, NM specializing in education, youth issues and community engagement. Sturgis is recognized for her leadership in competency-based education as a cofounder of CompetencyWorks.