“That is not my job,” is a phrase increasingly uttered by Stowe School Board members as the district navigates changes to the school — and state — education system, but whose job is it?
When it comes to alterations to the transcript, the public finally knows with whom to address grievances or offer suggestions: a group of fellow parents, teachers, counselors and, of course, the principal.
Over the last year, board members fielded complaints about the new proficiency-based learning system that moves student grading away from standard A-to-F marks toward a mastery model based increasingly on data and evidence.
Some parents are particularly worried about how the changes will affect college applications, many of which still rely on traditional transcripts to evaluate students.
They’ve brought competing beliefs to the board about how college admissions would view the new transcripts — which haven’t been established yet, but are in the works — and received minimal feedback in return.
The problem is that the board — volunteers elected to serve the public — doesn’t develop transcripts, the administration does.
“We have been working hard to clarify the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders to support and implement (proficiency-based learning),” said Superintendent Tracy Wrend.
One piece of the clarification includes the creation of a small team to focus on the college application process, she said.
The team, made up of two parents, education consultant Tom Richards, Stowe High Principal Chris Oleks, a handful of students, and the school’s guidance counselors, will work to make sure that the implementation of the new grading system strengthens the ability for children to move on to secondary education whether it be college, internships or a trade school.
“I’m the parent of a 10th grade student who will be in the first class to apply to college under the new grading system,” said Kurt Reichelt, one of two parents on the team, alongside Amy Rolfe, who has a ninth-grader.
“We want to make sure that any changes to the transcripts and the school profile reflect each student’s strengths in academic performance,” Reichelt said.
At the group’s first meeting last Friday, they spent two hours discussing the goals of the team and mapping out next steps.
Currently, the transcript team is in the fact-finding phase. They will begin to reach out to colleges and universities soon, gathering feedback on what they’d like to see on a transcript, how they view the current Stowe High School profile which will help to contextualize student performance, and the areas in which it can be improved.
“We don’t want to bog admissions down with too much detail,” Reichelt said.
As an alumnus of Stowe High, Reichelt believes that Stowe has a gem in its school system that can be accentuated.
Stowe High has been a top-ranked school year after year, and its graduating classes generally go off to rigorous colleges and universities.
The transcripts and school profile, outlining advanced placement, ACT and SAT standings should paint students in a positive light.
Moving forward, the transcript team wants to procure feedback from other parents, however, with only one meeting under its belt, members haven’t decided how they want to do that yet.
The team will likely remain together until the current 10th grade class goes through the college applications process.
“I think the kick-off has been positive,” Wrend said. “Now they just need the opportunity to dive into their work.”
The implementation of proficiency-based learning provides a great opportunity to look at grading and transcripts, and start anew, Reichelt added.