Prior to the 2020 pandemic, the pace of change was pressuring schools nationwide to prepare students for a rapidly changing, competitive workforce and accurately track each individual’s progress.
Today, that pressure is compounding as students, parents, and teachers brace for consistent changeups to the traditional classroom setting. These days, students are juggling in person with online learning, school shutdowns, testing delays and ongoing uncertainty as districts try to address hotspots, containment, testing requirements and CDC guidelines.
Out of the chaos, however, silver linings have emerged for pilot schools that became early adopters of the Montana-based Mastery Transcript Consortium (MTC). MTC senior director of partnerships Ben Rein says the consortium has joined with more than 334 schools in the last four years to reduce dependency on grades as a measure of a student’s success.
The Verdi EcoSchool in Eau Gallie is one of five Florida-based schools to adopt the MTC model in the past year.
Rather than requiring schools to use classroom time or the pace of learning as a measure of success, Rein said MTC is a gradeless measure that instead captures each student’s unique, strength and skills holistically.
Verdi EcoSchool Founder Ayana Verdi says she has been pleased with the pilot program. She says she founded the not-for-profit urban farm school three years ago and that MTC has enabled the school to embed an entrepreneurial mindset throughout the school’s entire K-12 curriculum.
“EcoSchool is unique because our curriculum is entirely project-based,” Verdi said. “We practice place-based education, so the community and its local businesses are our classroom, and each student’s contributions are a key measure of their success. We choose to work with MTC to ensure that who our students are and what they’ve accomplished is fairly articulated to their future employer or college of choice.”
For parents that may be hesitant to buck the traditional grades and testing based system, Rein says 100 percent of students using the MTC transcript have been accepted to college today and that more data will be needed to determine whether participating students have any definitive advantage of any kind.
“We recognize that right now may not be the time for all schools to reinvent themselves,” Rein said. “But the traditional transcript, the way most schools measure success today, is 120 years old. And if we’ve learned anything the past four months, it’s that today’s kids are going to need tremendous amounts of flexibility and adaptability to solve tomorrow’s big problems.”