I had to make a transcript for Ben so he can run in the cross country meets which begin this week; of course, he must have passing grades to participate in a high school sport. I’ve known for about 3 weeks that I needed to get this in, and I had just been forgetting to sit down and commit to one.
Not that I haven’t been looking and planning and thinking. I’ve been looking and planning and thinking for about 2 years, but when push came to shove, committing to a system was daunting!
What I’ve gleaned: There are two systems – subject-based and year-based. Year-based transcripts group all the courses a student takes by their academic year – 9th, 10th ,etc. This was how my high school transcript was made. In a subject-based transcript you can group all the like coursework together – English classes together, Science classes together, etc. This seems to be a good system for those who have taken some high school classes in middle school. Ben, for example, completed physical science + labs in 8th grade. I needed to count this as one of his lab science. I did go ahead and list when Ben completed the coursework (8th, 9th, etc. grades), so for Algebra I, which he started in the second half of 8th grade, I went ahead and counted it as a 9th grade class, because that is when he finished it.
Here’s how a subject transcript looks:
You can find many templates online. This particular one was from DonnaYoung.org
Grading: And, I formally committed to a 'mastery based' grading system for Ben. This is basically how we’ve worked all through his education here at home – we work on something until he knows it. Writing assignments are done when they meet my criteria; math is done when all mistakes are understood and corrected. In this way, I hope to foster with Ben hard work, understanding and seeking out information. There have been times I’ve sent Ben back to re-read something or do more research on a topic.
A few years ago, an admissions officer from a local university spoke to us and told us that as long as we clarified how we graded, we could use any grading system we wanted. This gave me the confidence to use the mastery based system. I don’t know if this will be the exact way I will prepare Luke’s high school program (thankfully, I have a few more years to think on what would best capture Luke’s skills). I’ll let you know how it all works out in a few more years!
I should note that there are some classes that just cannot be mastery-based. For example, Ben is taking his Spanish class online through our state charter school; that grade will be whatever he earns! And, I’m also going to give him some honors credit. Math U See, for example, has honors pages in their secondary math programs. These pages offer expand on ideas presented and often have some practical application practice for the concepts being learned. Ben has to complete all these pages to mastery in order to earn the honors credit. After a little online searching, I’m giving him .5 extra grade points for an honors course. Again, kinda silly I realize, when Ben is being graded on content mastery, but I did want some way to acknowledge the fact that he had done more than a basic course.
According to our admissions officer, as long as you are specifying how you grade, your student will be able to be compared to private, public and other schoolers on a fairly even playing field.
I hope to have him take some CLEP tests to testify to his grades. However, I won’t start that until later this spring or in the summer.
Additional Documentation: I’m also creating course descriptions for all of the classes Ben is taking. These are combinations of publisher descriptions + some fancy writing of my own; book lists; assignments required and grading policies (sort of a moot point when you have a mastery-based program). I am modeling mine after the course descriptions on Lee Binz’s website. Lee also has a couple styles of transcripts that you can see.
Organizing Records: At this point, My plan is to have 4 3” - 4”Binders full of Ben’s work. I’m not very good at culling out ‘just the best’ right now, so I know this is all overkill for now. When we get closer to the end of his junior year (I know, I know, it will be here before I know it), I will make a point to have a course description + tagged samples, if necessary, to verify his work.
Trust me, I do not have it all together. I’m reading, revising, seeking out those who have already done this….we are a work in progress. Please share if you have techniques and/or tips that work for you.