Universities open the door to entry to take students’ skills into account

Imagine a high school where students skip standardized final exams. Instead, show a degree or diploma and show the results of the major projects you have undertaken. For example, analyze why the United States lost the Vietnam War or how geometric patterns can be used to generate solar energy.

Could this type of exam, called the Achievement Assessment, make it difficult for these students to enter college?

This is a big question for K-12 educators, as more and more schools are interested in using projects and portfolios to get a more complete picture of student learning.

The problem is that most college admissions officers now have to quickly review a large number of applications. Few can spend more time reading long descriptions of student work or watching videos of their presentations.

“Performance-based assessments can provide colleges with much information about what could make a student successful there,” said David Hawkins, director of the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

“But the approval process is like trying to stack a huge square piece into a small round hole,” Hawkins said, because most of the recording offices are set up to handle queries quickly and with formulas.

How can college admissions officers have a quick and accurate idea of ​​what achievement-oriented students have achieved? Some projects across the country are trying to answer this question.

A software barrier

One of these initiatives, Reimagining College Access, seeks to remove a key barrier to assessing performance ratings in student study applications: university software systems.

Hawkins, who works on this project, said most universities use software systems designed to handle student ratings and test scores, but can not accept videos, research, and other projects. College Learning, based at the Learning Policy Institute in California, is working to develop or find online platforms that accept this kind of student work.

With the resources to spend more time on each student’s needs, the most selective private universities are those that study more complex forms of student work. And many have been doing this kind of “holistic shots” for years. For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology allows students to take “creative portfolios” that capture research, visual and performing arts, and creative projects.

However, most students attend large public universities with criteria based on formulas and little time for nuances in assessing applicants. A project in New York urges these doors to open a little more.

The New York Performance Standards Consortium, a network of public high schools that uses project-based learning and performance assessment, noted that its students found it difficult to be admitted to the four-year facilities of the City University of New York. Therefore, he partnered with the CUNY system to see what would happen if CUNY extended the criteria he considered for the admission of students to the consortium.

In a pilot project that began in 2015, CUNY universities began to review projects based on the performance and work portfolios of student consortia and their teachers’ descriptions, even if they scored points. SATs of these students were just below Minimum limits for each campus of CUNY. ,

The preliminary results of this pilot are promising. Graduates from the consortium’s high schools who have been admitted to the pilot program will achieve CUNY scores at least as good or better than the average of New York City-accredited students.

CUNY representatives refused to discuss the pilot of this story. But Michelle Fine, a CUNY professor, who analyzes the data from this project, said that the receiving agencies are allowed to “meet with candidates they have not met before” and use students’ performance ratings as predictors of predictability her university success.

Open a door

Chynna Krouser is an example of this. It would probably not have been accepted under the traditional rules of CUNY. Her grades placed her in the top 10 percent of her class at Eastside Community High in New York, a consortium school, but her SAT grades did not meet CUNY’s requirements.

When pilot Krouser opened the door to report more about his work, including an advanced algebra project in his second year, which he defended in the style of a doctor before standing before a jury of adult judges, he became of several campuses Members accepted CUNY of four years. Now she is a junior at one of them, Hunter College, with an average of 3.0, aiming for a veterinary school.

“I’m glad you can really see me and what I can do,” said Krouser.

Schools using projects and performance evaluations are often too heavy to explain to colleges to ensure that admissions officers fully understand their students’ applications.

Jerome Furman, Advisor at Krouser High School, welcomes his role as Chief Explainer. Maintain relationships with college admissions officers and take time to describe the projects your students are doing and the non-traditional way in which your domain is rated.

“There can really be a door there to see my children if I have no relation to anyone,” Furman said.

Change of transcripts

Part of Furman’s job is to ensure that colleges have and understand Eastside High’s ‘school profile’. The profile is a standard high school document sent with applications from college students. It summarizes the school on one or two short pages and explains details such as the curriculum, the assessment system and the demographic composition of the community.

A New England-based project has developed model profiles to help schools that use performance ratings to clearly pass their work to universities. They have also designed model transcripts to reflect the nature of student work in achievement-oriented schools.

Both models were created with commentary from universities, said David Ruff, executive director of the Great Schools Partnership, which supports the project of the New England Consortium of Secondary Schools and the New England Board of Higher Education.

The new transcription model provides more detailed information than ordinary transcriptions. Use a 1-4 rating scale for student courses. But it also offers qualifications for cross-sectional skills, eg. For problem solving, and for mastering specific standards in each subject. In English, for example, students’ competence is assessed separately in terms of reading comprehension, reading interpreting, writing, writing research, discussion and presentation.

The New England Consortium and the Board of Higher Education have also addressed a major concern of parents whose children attend high-performance colleges: If our children do not present traditional transcripts at universities, do they have difficulty entering?

The two organizations called colleges and universities in New England a few years ago, and received a strong response. Seventy-five public and private institutions have pledged that students from merit-based schools will not be penalized in the admission process.

“We’ve heard from these schools that the various transcripts were not a problem,” said Ruff. “Across the country, colleges already see transcripts using AF rating systems, or from 0 to 100 or 1-2-3-4, or systems where A, B, and C are present, and not There is credit below C.” And transcripts of schools that use narrative descriptions.

“The key is that they need to explain the transcripts,” Ruff said. “They just want to understand.”

Most schools that use performance ratings are still a crucial conversion for universities: they use a letter or rating system that is based on numbers, Ruff said. Sending narrative descriptions of student work was “still a heavy burden” for everyone, except for a few highly selective institutions, he said.

The new types of transcripts and school profiles could help fill this gap.