Mastery Transcript Goes National

In 2015, as part of the design work to create the Mastery School of Hawken, Head of School Scott Looney created the model for the Mastery Transcript, a new digital transcript that assessed academic credits through faculty review of digital portfolios of student’s best work, rather than seat time in courses, and without letter grades.

To build a coalition of independent schools to ensure the Mastery Transcript was accepted by colleges as a legitimate substitute for a traditional transcript, Scott launched a new non-profit, the Mastery Transcript Consortium (MTC), in 2017. Currently, the MTC has a membership of 372 public, private, parochial, and international schools in 38 countries, representing over 500,000 students. The first Mastery Transcripts were sent to colleges in 2021, and, to date, over 500 colleges and universities have accepted it as an alternative to a traditional transcript; none have declined. The journey to create the Mastery Transcript was featured in this 2021 Washington Post Magazine article
On Wednesday, May 15, the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the largest non-profit assessment organization in the world, announced (in this ETS press release) that the Mastery Transcript Consortium will become part of its new joint initiative with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching called Skills for the Future. As part of this initiative, ETS is refocusing its work towards the measurement of durable, transferable skills while the Carnegie Foundation, which invented time-based crediting in 1906 (Carnegie Unit/Credit hour), is calling for the move away from time based-crediting towards skills-based (competency) crediting. Amit Sevak, CEO of ETS, recently stated that he hopes “millions of students will have access to a holistic skills transcript,” i.e., the Mastery Transcript.
Scott Looney commented, “While receiving academic credit for time in courses with letter grades serves some students well - and Hawken will continue to offer that as one option - we know that students are inherently different, and that traditional grading and crediting does not serve all learners well. I am proud to have created a crediting and assessment option that allows for individualized pace and focuses the students’ efforts towards creating their very best work rather than focusing upon the judgment of teachers in the form of grades. When we started this effort, my hope was that the Mastery Transcript might be useful for few hundred schools, but having two of the most prominent non-profits in education promoting the Mastery Transcript as the summative academic record for millions of students in thousands of schools is beyond my wildest dreams.”
And we know firsthand the Mastery Transcript works. The Mastery School of Hawken opened in 2020, so the first full cohort of graduating students just received their college acceptances using only a Mastery Transcript. Their success in being admitted to the most selective colleges and universities (see Mastery School college acceptances here) was nearly identical to our history of success in college placement for our Upper School (named first in the state of Ohio among private independent schools) students.     
One of the principles stated in Hawken’s Purpose, Promise and Principles guiding document is, “We orient our program with a primacy towards the development of essential skills beyond the acquisition of specific knowledge.” This growing educational movement to reorient school towards the development of durable, transferable skills, represented in this Skills for the Future initiative is welcome acknowledgement and support of our efforts and focus. 
Note:  One size does not fit all, so Hawken will continue to offer a graded, course-credited transcript for students in the Upper School, while also offering the portfolio assessed Mastery Transcript to students in the Mastery School.   
An independent, coeducational, college preparatory day school, toddler through grade 12

Early Childhood, Lower, and Middle Schools, 5000 Clubside Rd, Lyndhurst, OH 44124
Birchwood School of Hawken, 4400 West 140th Street, Cleveland, OH 44135 

Upper School, PO Box 8002 (12465 County Line Rd), Gates Mills, OH 44040
Mastery School of Hawken, 11025 Magnolia Dr, Cleveland, OH 44106

Gries Center, 10823 Magnolia Dr, Cleveland, OH 44106

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