Choate Joins the Mastery Transcript Consortium

As stated by the 2013 Choate Rosemary Hall Strategic Plan, “Choate cultivates a vibrant community of principled individuals from diverse backgrounds and unites them through common purpose, active engagement, and mutual respect.” The variety of backgrounds of Choate students means that students have different strengths and weaknesses. Simply placing students of different ability in one classroom can cause many conflicts and can be perplexing for a teacher to match everybody’s ability.s stated by the 2013 Choate Rosemary Hall Strategic Plan, “Choate cultivates a vibrant community of principled individuals from diverse backgrounds and unites them through common purpose, active engagement, and mutual respect.” The variety of backgrounds of Choate students means that students have different strengths and weaknesses. Simply placing students of different ability in one classroom can cause many conflicts and can be perplexing for a teacher to match everybody’s ability.

This is why Choate has joined the Mastery Transcript Consortium (MTC). The MTC is a group of schools that hopes to modify the process of planning for university and college admissions for the benefit of students.

The members of the MTC believe a student’s transcript should consist of more than a course title or a grade; instead, they believe transcripts should focus on mastering specific content areas. The transcript will be able to be read by college admissions officers in less than two minutes. Most noticeably, there will be no letter grades on a student’s transcript, just specific skill mastery levels.

Dr. Katie Jewett, Director of Curricular Initiatives, and Ms. Katie Levesque, Dean of Faculty, have been communicating with the MTC since last winter. Dr. Jewett described the MTC as a group of over 80 different schools around the country that are exploring the best ways to represent student learning and students themselves through a transcript. Ms. Levesque described the MTC as a group of independent schools that have conversations on how to adjust their transcripts in order to address problems raised by their current systems.

“It all started with a conference call last winter that Dr. Curtis and Ms. Levesque and I had with Scott Looney, one of the founders of MTC.” Dr. Jewett stated. “He walked us through the idea of the consortium and many of his ideas overlapped with Choate ideals. We believed it was worth exploring.”

Ms. Levesque noted, “We decided to join MTC because we have many smart faculties already on campus that have already been concerned about problems MTC has already been addressing, and it was good to be able to discuss with a larger group about these issues and to not be alone in this.”

“Dr. Jewett and the department heads are probably the ones most aware of the existence of MTC. However, we hope to get the faculty involved in the future because it’s the faculty that determine Choate’s curriculum.” Ms. Levesque commented.Though many teachers have not yet heard of the MTC, some have already been applying MTC concepts into their lessons. “Many English teachers have been applying this concept.” Dr. Jewett affirmed. “For example, many sophomore teachers use this technique in the mastering of grammar. Let’s say you are currently learning where you place your semicolons. If you’re okay with it, you can move onto something else; however, if you are not, the system will provide you with more practice problems until you are familiar with using semicolons.”

Illustration by Austen Rogers/The Choate News

The MTC focuses on six major forms of enhancing education.

“Sometimes the name and grade of the course does not really say much is happening in the course” Dr. Jewett remarked. “The consortium hopes to go in more detail to say what skills have been gained in the course. Many important aspects of learning, such as public speaking and collaborating, are not yet expressed on current transcripts, and MTC hopes to extend future transcripts in this area.”

One of the reasons Choate decided to join the MTC was to adjust to student feedback. “Throughout the curriculum review process, we have heard many students state that they love the Choate program, but hoped that the program was more flexible,” Ms. Levesque said. “We also believe that not all students need to be taking the same courses to be able to get a broad and deep high school education.”

However, as Dr. Jewett stated, “Changing a transcript that has existed over 100 years is not an overnight process.” Though the Mastery Transcript Consortium has not yet started playing a major role on campus, its principles align with Choate’s viewpoints in terms of optimizing learning and the student experience.

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