• Sara Needleman

College Admissions, Proficiency and JumpRope

As Maine moves closer to graduating students with proficiency-based diplomas, and as Vermont continues to be guided by the Flexible Pathways Initiative for graduation, we at JumpRope maintain our interest in the evolving conversation about high school transcripts. Toward that end, a few of us attended the New England Association of College Admission Counseling (NEACAC) Conference at Northeastern University in Boston earlier this month. Jesse was part of a team that presented on Standards-Based Learning and the College Admissions Process.

You might recall that we have blogged on this very topic before. If you like, check out our 2014 post which is based on interviews Sara conducted with several college admissions counselors. You might look at college admissions counselor, Michael Stefanowicz’s guest post. Or take a peek at Sara’s follow-up to Michael’s post as she interviewed high school counselors. All of those are good background for the presentation Michael Stefanowicz from St. Michael’s College, Greg Henderson from Skowhegan High School, Jesse Olsen from JumpRope and Patti Tomashot from Champlain Valley Union High School, shared last week.

In the early part of the presentation, Michael shared that as high schools change their methods of data collection and reporting, they should stay in touch with colleges and universities to help them understand these new measures. High school counselors have always forged and maintained relationships with their higher ed counterparts to help them understand things like their school’s system of class ranking and the language of the school profile. As the shift to proficiency continues, so will those conversations. Michael encourages high school and higher ed personnel to include in those discussions the opportunity to share feedback on new documents and the latitude to brainstorm the creation of additional documents that might better serve admissions counselors as they review application packages. He reiterated a mantra we have heard again and again: a detailed school profile and careful explanation of scoring practices is essential.

Jesse followed Michael’s portion of the presentation with an overview of the ways in with JumpRope supports this transition, making it easier for high schools and colleges to communicate effectively and efficiently with one another. He shared JumpRope’s Three-Pronged Approach of Structure and Shared Practices; Awareness and Outreach; and Flexible Software and Reports.

Structure and Shared Practices begins with JumpRope guiding our school districts to create a standards bank which all teachers would access. This is the agreed-upon set of outcomes a school district expects of students at each grade level and therefore upon graduation. It is generally based on national standards such as the Next Generation Science Standards. We also encourage our school districts to to consider our Implementation Benchmarks as an indicator of their own readiness to shift to a proficiency-based system and to implement JumpRope. The goal in creating and considering these documents is to converge teaching practice and reporting format.

As practice and reporting format have begun to look more like one another, JumpRope has been drawn into discussions between high school and higher education personnel. The resulting relationships have informed our Awareness and Outreach. As mentioned above, we invite college admissions counselors to share their voices here, through our blog, and we welcome opportunities like last week’s to be part of the work college admissions folks and high school counselors do with one another.

In the end, our goal is to create Flexible Software and Reports to best inform all the stakeholders who will view them: students, parents, teachers, administrators, school counselors and admissions staff. JumpRope allows schools to generate course-based and/or proficiency-based progress reports and transcripts. We offer customizable “conversions” between grading scales to help our readers interpret those progress reports and transcripts. And we are able to support a multi-year rollout, grades 6-8, 9-12, etc., for our new schools and districts as they decide how and when to implement a proficiency-based system.

We are many things at JumpRope: goofy data geeks, passionate teachers, wry tellers of jokes, parents of kids in schools and, above everything else, dedicated supporters of the mission to make learning and the full gamut of reporting on it meaningful for students.

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