Does Standards-Based Grading Hurt Students’ College Chances?
In this article in School Administrator, Thomas Buckmiller and Randal Peters (Drake University) address the concern voiced by some parents that students in schools using innovative grading practices won’t get fair and equitable consideration from selective colleges. Buckmiller and Peters interviewed admissions officers at two large state universities, one midsized state university, and one midsized private university (all in the Midwest) and came away with the following insights:
• Letter grades and transcripts based on standards are acceptable, even preferable. For years, universities have been frustrated with high schools’ grade inflation, inaccurate portrayals of student performance, grades that mush together academic and behavioral information, and the resulting need to provide remediation to significant numbers of admitted students. There’s real appreciation for high schools that clearly delineate standards and distinguish between different strands of information on student achievement and conduct. The one caveat is that admissions officers prefer letter grades to any other grading metric.
• Colleges are working to ensure equitable treatment for students with non-traditional grades. They’re already dealing with home-schooled students and an increasing number of students without class rankings. As more applicants submit non-traditional grades, colleges will adjust their formulas and try to be fair. They’ll also give more weight to standardized test scores with these students. High schools’ college counselors are key middlepeople in making sure colleges understand the grades and other information being submitted.
• For college admissions personnel, efficiency and accuracy are key. They’re handling thousands of applications with limited staff and need concise, objective information that will tell them if each applicant can make it in their college. “The worst thing we can do,” said one official, “is admit them when they don’t have the skills to be successful. It’s on our shoulders when they’re… dropping out and walking away with debt.” What’s most helpful is accurate, non-inflated information on achievement and, separately, objective information on students’ attendance, work ethic, and perseverance.
One high-school administrator summed it up well in a statement to students: “You will get into college, but that’s not why we’re here. We’re here to make sure you get through college.”
“Getting a Fair Shot?” by Thomas Buckmiller and Randal Peters in School Administrator, February 2018 (Vol. 75, #2, p. 22-25),
http://my.aasa.org/AASA/Resources/SAMag/2018/Feb18/Buckmiller.aspx; Buckmiller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is the text of a statement made to the BUHS Community on February 16th. We're hoping that when we return from break, we'll be engaging in a meaning dialogue to discuss how we can implement proactive steps to increase our sense of school safety by improving communication. Statement follows:
As many of you may already know, on Wednesday afternoon 17 lives were lost in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida. This marks the another school shooting event in our country in 2018 and once again we are a community and nation in mourning.
Please join me in a moment of silence as we remember the victims of Wednesdays event, as well as the victims of earlier events from this year.
Please know it is okay to grieve. It is okay to feel scared, to feel helpless, and even to feel angry. It is appropriate to ask questions about safety.
This event also raises questions about the safety for all of us, not only here at school, but throughout our daily lives.
People often ask me as the school principal, what else can we be doing prevent these types of events here at BUHS? We have well thought out procedures and actions that we practice if we are threatened. We have a well coordinated plan with local and state agencies in the event that something like this happens here. Please understand those steps are reactions, not prevention. They are good steps, but our community needs to focus on and take an active prevention as well.
What you can do is look out for your friends and colleagues. If you become aware of a person in this community in need or contemplating harm to others, I urge all of you to speak up. Talk with myself, Ms. Margaitis, Ms. Kaufmann, Captain Anderson or any adult you trust. Now more than ever, we need to do what we can as a community to make sure that we are looking out for each other and taking action when it is appropriate to do so. Not only might you avert a tragedy here at BUHS, you will also help a person in need.
I ask you all to be part of a united front to help us keep our community safe. BUHS and the Brattleboro area is an incredible and unique place ; your love and support for each other keeps it that way.
This week we start into second semester here at BUHS. We will not be distributing schedules on Wednesday; students can access their schedules by logging into PowerSchool. Wednesday morning we will have staff members in various areas of the school if you need to check your schedule. You can also get your schedule from your school counselor. We're looking forward to a great spring semester.
In other news, please remember to support our BUHS Athletes. We've got some incredible competitive teams this season and they are playing with passion!