By: Rebecca Midles and Tom Vander Ark

Storytelling—it’s all the rage, from film and podcasts to marketing and social change. People worldwide are reawakening to the power of a well-told story.

Schools around the world are attempting to serve their students in more relevant and authentic ways. They’re building community support for change, adopting broader aims, developing new learning experiences, and updating their school models. With these updates, there is a new opportunity to better equip young people to tell their story, sharing the growth they have experienced and the capabilities they have developed in ways that traditional transcripts can’t.

As a list of courses and grades, traditional transcripts summarize a course of study. But they are a bad proxy for capabilities certification and lousy at storytelling an individual student’s unique experience.

More than 300 leading schools in the Mastery Transcript Consortium are building a new transcript, one that leaves credits and grades behind and embraces new visual depictions of demonstrated competencies. This new format will encourage higher education to accept alternative formats and will encourage high school transformation as well.

However, for the next five years while new transcript formats gain traction—public schools, particularly newer schools and schools that serve students that have struggled academically—would better serve their students by producing an extended transcript.

What Is An Extended Transcript?

An extended transcript supplements a traditional list of course credits and grades. It could be as simple as a one-page addendum to the official transcript that includes additional endorsements such as certifications, badges earned and scholarships awarded.

An extended transcript can also include critical competencies demonstrated. ACT has assessments for cross-cutting capabilities like information literacy, collaborative problem solving, thinking and metacognition, and studying and learning, as well as behavioral skills such as self-regulatory and interpersonal skills. Adding recognized measures of certified work-ready skills to a transcript can differentiate a candidate.

Schools in the New Tech Network use common rubrics to assess agency and collaboration demonstrated by students in each project. These results could be summarized in an extended transcript which could be accompanied by a digital portfolio of personal bests.

IMS Global created the Comprehensive Learner Record standard to enable schools and networks to develop extended transcript systems that incorporate verifiable credentials. The PIVOT Project is a partnership of IMS and the OESIS Network of more than 600 independent schools to use the Comprehensive Learner Record as a better way to capture a complete picture of student competencies, skills, projects and experiences. PIVOT and other extended transcript solutions will be discussed at the IMS Digital Credential Summit next week in Atlanta.

Extended transcripts will help young people tell their stories and help high schools signal learner success and share readiness for college and careers. They could also invite learners to become more deeply engaged in their learning and strive to be fully prepared for all that the future has to offer. Extended transcripts can represent the unique skills, strengths, and interests of each learner.

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Rebecca Midles is an innovator in competency education and personalized learning with over twenty years of experience as teacher, administrator, board member, consultant and parent. Follow her on Twitter at @akrebecca.
Tom Vander Ark is author of Better Together, Smart Parents, Smart Cities, Getting Smart and The Power of Place. He is co-founder of Getting Smart and Learn Capital and serves on the boards of Education Board Partners, 4.0 Schools, Digital Learning Institute, Latinx Education Collaborative, Mastery Transcript Consortium and eduInnovation. Follow Tom on Twitter, @tvanderark.

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