We applaud the efforts of the Mastery Transcript Consortium to focus on learning habits and outcomes rather than extrinsic rewards, such as grades, that distract students from the real work and excitement at hand (“Tossing ABC’s of school transcripts,” Page A1, July 10). Toward that end, the consortium aims to rethink the information shared with colleges. Our schools have never used grades, and send colleges transcripts without any quantitative data. This model has flourished in our communities for years.
Meridian Academy, the Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School, and many other public and independent schools report on the content and skills that a student masters each year. Students receive detailed written feedback, which is a more useful guide to improvement than a number or letter.
The greatest benefits of learning without grades come not during the college application process, but before and after. In high schools such as ours, students focus on mastering skills, asking the questions that excite them most, carrying out research, and taking risks as an essential part of learning. In college, they bring this approach — enthusiastic learning for its own sake — to their efforts with classmates and professors. Students who spend years without traditional grades become genuine lifelong learners.