SAN ANSELMO (KPIX 5) — There is a growing consensus at some Bay Area private high schools that letter grades A through F are outdated. Instead they want to create transcripts with details about each student’s achievements.

ALSO READ: Bay Area Father Fights Middle School Dress Code For Teen Daughter

“The grading system is pretty broken,” says Kate Reeser, Director at San Domenico School in San Anselmo.

She and other administrators there are exploring a new school of thought when it comes to grading. They want to do away with the concept of letter grades entirely.

“It’s about gaming the system, students no longer care about learning the information it’s about getting the A,” says her Cecily Stock who heads the school.

ALSO READ: UC Berkeley, USF Among Schools Helping Immigrants Amid DACA Confusion

San Domenico is one of more than 100 schools across the country participating in the mastery transcript consortium. It is a new teaching model that aims to evaluate how well a student has ‘mastered’ a concept. Rather than receiving a letter grade, students will be given a review from their teacher.

“Instead of a B it would look like more of a narrative,” Says Reeser.

The Mastery Transcript Consortium website shows what a sample transcript for a graduating student would look like. A pie chart illustrates what skills the student has mastered, and below it are descriptions of their earned credits tailored to that individual.

ALSO READ: California Approves New Restrictions For Drivers Under 21

San Domenico is one of 14 Bay Area schools participating in this program. It has yet to be implemented, but once it is, students will be allowed to choose between traditional grades, or the mastery transcript model.

Administrators say they see this as the future of education across the board.

“This will not cause students to stop thriving,” says Stock. “If anything it will make efforts feel more worthwhile and the assessments more authentic.”

The new grade-less system is still in the very early stages. Administrators say the earliest a student would graduate from San Domenico with a transcript instead of a GPA is 7 years from now.

The consortium plans to reach out to colleges in an effort to make sure the new method for evaluating students passes muster with admission offices.

Comments (63)
  1. If California wants to do this, then fine. Go ahead. Just one thing. Don’t send any of your students to any other states after they graduate.

    1. Jeff Lucas says:

      You do realize that you are letting the media guide you by the nose on this one, right? First, there is no such things as a single entity, “California Schools.” California Schools are governed by 100s, if not thousands, as independent school districts, which are loosely governed themselves by County Superintendents of Schools and the California Department of Education. Second, and more importantly here, these are private schools that are considering this, not a public school, or public school district. This is a far cry from a “California” idea. Though, UC Santa Cruz does (or at least did) do this.

      And the biggest catch in the whole thing is–they are checking to see if colleges will accept it. Do you really think swamped college admissions offices are going to want to ditch a system that allows for a mathematical filter, even if only on the initial stages of review, for something that requires intensive reading and subjective evaluation–for hundreds of thousands of students? No.

  2. California Is Clueless, And Adrift.

    1. Jeff Lucas says:

      Did you miss the parts where it said a few private schools? How did you manage to extrapolate an idea of a few private schools to the entire public school system?

  3. Mike Mora says:

    This seems like the natural byproduct of the participation trophy generation. Judging anyone for anything is unfair to the poorest performer.
    Some might argue that even the pie chart results will be unfair because someone will always rate lower.
    How is that sugarcoated?
    I suspect college entrance would be judged strictly on SAT and SAT subject scores. Ultimately college prep is really what high school is all about.

  4. Cam Kirmser says:

    Well, they have to find some way to hide all those embarrassing ‘F’s.

  5. Randy Metz says:

    This is laughable. As one who vets resumes I will tell you right now a decision is made on every resume after less than 15 seconds of perusal. If promise is shown it goes in a file for more consideration. If not, it goes into the circular file. This out of necessity, not because I don’t care. There is just not time to go into detail on every applicant. I am sure not going to take three or four minutes to read some narrative about the applicant’s “accomplishments” before I decide which file it goes into.

    Also, who is going to write these narratives? Will I try to get my child into a classroom because the teacher writes better narratives than the others and not because she or he is a better teacher?

    How about the teacher who doesn’t take the time (or doesn’t have the time) to write an attractive narrative? Are her students punished for that?

  6. If the students go onto higher education without a usual grading system, they will be rudely awakened by the grading system employed by the colleges.

  7. VR will put all of these schnooks out of a job. The sooner the better. Hasta la vista, baby.

  8. barry1817 says:

    no problem everyone gets a C because it isn’t fair to punish with low grades those that don’t study and party, and besides we should get students who are successful used to be punished for succeeding, and why should they get A, when they didn’t do it on their own.

  9. chrismireya says:

    Those complaining about the grading system are largely the same who have children who aren’t doing as well as their peers. They want to differentiate themselves in areas other than academics. The problem is that college and university admission departments ALREADY take into account other things.

    That GPA and grading system IS indicative of student success. It is quantifying that success. Those who complain about “gaming the system” would quickly “game” any system that isn’t quantifiable. The “pass/fail” grading experiment has largely failed because it doesn’t identify those who truly excel or master a subject better than others.

    Nearly every company that I have interviewed with has requested a transcript or GPA. They are less concerned with the various student and extracurricular activities that I participated with. They were more interested in my work experience (including internships), examples of leadership (within or outside of the field) and, of course, my mastery of academics in the fields related to each potential job.

    The removal of a quantifiable grading system and the accompanying nomenclature (e.g., A, B, C, etc.) would only serve to fail those students. Colleges and universities want that information when determining who would better “fit” in their schools.

  10. Laura Colver says:

    This system is based on “mastering” the subject…what if you don’t “master” the subject, but are just average in understanding the concept of the subject. What then? Did they even think this thing through?

  11. Oh my, we wouldn’t want to hurt the little snowflakes’ feelings. Preparing kids to fail…

  12. Sean Sanders says:

    You mean like college? Because they used number scores when I went to college in the late 70’s to early 80’s. Is that really news?

  13. Dusty Rhodes says:

    Everyone gets a 4.0 and a participation trophy.

  14. Let’s do away with the scoring sports as well, all can get participation trophies

  15. The new grades will be L G B T Q W T F

    1. Bob: I’ve spent time studying this issue, now to be defined as BLT&G’s! Has a much more catchy ring to it!

  16. Alan Reyes says:

    Realize the massive new power teachers have if they get to give students a summary rather than there being objective grades. Students would be absolutely required to swallow all indoctrination in every class and parrot back all the teacher’s politics or face the teacher giving a bad review. And, since the review has no objective background, the student would have no appeal for a bad review. Total power politics for the Teacher’s Union.

  17. Steven Reiss says:

    Just get rid of all the letter grades except “F” which California students deserve anyway!

  18. Rob Lynn says:

    Grades make certain demographics look bad.

  19. Jim Steiger says:

    This is simply a ruse to allow a grading system that (a) has no “headroom,” (i.e., cannot distinguish between students who are good and those who are great), (b) won’t upset or annoy any mediocre students or their parents.

    Rest assured that (a) the “comments” will be generated from a very limited boilerplate script, and (b) they will be sugar-coated and generally uninformative. Teachers start these “narrative” grading methods with the best of intentions, but soon fall back on boilerplate.

    Compare educational achievement (which evidently isn’t very important to administrators) with athletic achievement. In athletics, we are continually refining our measurement methods. In 1930, we measured running times to a tenth of a second, now we measure to 1/100 of a second. In baseball, we used to have batting average and slugging percentage, now we have about 15 indicators of hitting ability.

    In high schools, true academic “superstars” are an embarrassment to many teachers and administrators. They want them to shut up, slow down, and not make anyone else uncomfortable. Most of all, they don’t want any ethnic group to be shown to under-perform. Trashing an accurate and sensitive numerical or letter grading system in favor of feel-good “narratives” helps them achieve that objective.

    When has a narrative like the one below ever been sent home to a parent? You KNOW that in any public school system, there are dozens of students like this one:

    “Your son ABCD is very much at risk. He constantly talks in class, disrupting other students and showing disrespect to me. To attract attention to himself, he pretends to fall asleep during the more challenging parts of the class. Right now, if he were to graduate, he’d be unemployable. This is a grade 10 math class, and he can’t add 2+2 and get 4. He has not only failed to grasp algebra, he can’t do basic arithmetic. I have no idea how previous teachers saw fit to push your child forward, but the buck is definitely going to stop here unless he improves drastically. My advice would be to take your unmotivated son out to the woodshed and give him a good talking-to. Explain that his future will be dim without math skills. Demand that he improve. I’ll be observing him closely to monitor his progress. And if he acts out in class one more time, I’ll be recommending suspension to the principal.”

  20. Tom Menino says:

    Creating generations of unemployables. But they will vote Democrat. So there’s that.

  21. Every student will get a grade of “P” for participation. A variant may include “PWA” for Participation Without Attendance. Or “JTDTP” Just Too Dumb To Participate. Or, “ANRTP” Athlete Not Required To Participate. See, it’s really quite simple.

  22. Leave it to CA to come up with a system that will prevent states from comparing the capabilities of these skulls full of mush with other students from different states.

  23. Dee Win says:

    Another step toward third-world status. Brilliant.

  24. Dave Gardner says:

    And the MARCHING MORONS are here! for details see the C.M. Kornbuth story

  25. It sounds like Latinos have taken over the schools!
    The grading system has worked for a long time…why change?

  26. Of course the state is filled with Dunces who can’t graduate under Governor Moonbeam Brown and the California Teachers Union (aka “Association).
    All they need to know is to vote for the people with the letter “D” next to their names,
    and where the local welfare office is.

  27. It wasn’t until the ’90’s that Stanford had a failing grade. This strikes me as no big surprise.

  28. The next generation is going to grow up less tolerant of the left and progressives won’t be able to figure out why.

  29. Steve Hansen says:

    Any education policy coming out of the Bay Area is a bad idea – I don’t care what it is. Policy makers in the region so liberal they think their policies that gave us the Snow Flake generation is actually a really good outcome.

  30. California was once the model for all states in eduction. But, in the last 30 years they kept dropping the standards both in educations and student behavior to accommodate an immigrant culture (predominantly from one country) that has had zero interest in meeting ANY standards. Exit exams to graduate we’re at a 6th grade level to pass. And still students didn’t even try to pass. And almost all middle class and above US citizens withdrew their children for private schools. This is what happens when a state allows unfettered unlimited illegal aliens without assimilation into education systems…no standards. Just say’in. And is doesn’t make me a racist for stating the facts.

  31. California is a failure no matter what scale you use.

  32. David Keller says:

    My “State” loves to be “progressive”. How quickly and easily it is to destroy with utterly asinine ideas.

  33. Interesting. Grades are supposed to show the level of mastery of the subject matter. So rather than give the student a grade the teacher meets with the student to determine the mastery of the subject then writes a report that is not comprehensible to a college. That sounds like a bottom of the SAT silo that educators tend to populate to me. Wouldn’t it be better to design the evaluation of the student into the tests and measures in the class then relate that mastery to A, B, C etc.? Oh rats, now we are back to what grades are supposed to reflect in the first place. A real engineer when looking at the reasoning of the teachers is. If you were doing your job in the first place, you wouldn’t have to change it, would you?

  34. This is as stupid as Common Core and Ebonics….Kids these days are already 3 yrs behind developmentally from kids in 1970. This is so stupid. Grades teach accountability and show the child and family the results of bad life decisions. Such as going out partying instead of studying.

  35. Jim Lively says:

    Oh just give them all participation “A”s.

  36. Johnny plays well with friends and it is quick to participate in assigned class work. Johnny loves wearing pink dresses and high heels and is a good little cis boy.

  37. Come here from Drudge? Leave here to, for more real California news.

  38. My guess, the new grades are 1. Awesome, 2. Terrific 3. A Beautiful Mind and 4.Kick *ss .

  39. “It’s about gaming the system, students no longer care about learning the information it’s about getting the A,” says her Cecily Stock who heads the school.- So since when did it become about “gaming” the system? Where did these private school kids learn about “gaming” the system instead of hard work? So now all of the sudden you’re going to eliminate the structure because these kids have outsmarted the teachers with regard to “gaming” the system and not learning the material, just getting graded so they get an A they didn’t deserve? It’s a well known fact that CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS ARE GARBAGE! This proves it.

  40. Brought to you by the same people who wanted to teach Ebonics as a language.

  41. Dale Warren says:

    Is the sole purpose of radical, alt-Left, anti-American, socialist Progressives in California to infuse as much craziness as possible into the nation?

  42. Jack Frost says:

    It makes perfect sense that this incredibly unreal idea would come from a CA govt entity. It of course has NO MERIT in “the real world” of decent and responsible people, BUT… it’s CA! There will soon follow laws that proclaim how private companies will choose employees based on their “ethnic diversity score”s. Follow that with the devolution of society into a cess-pool that mimics the lowest common denominator of humanoids but with a ruling class of Elite Pigs who have NOTHING in common with the useful idiots that are their swine.

    I am REALLY GLAD that I MAY be old enough to avoid seeing this mess happen.

  43. Jim Williams says:

    A narrative review sounds like a lot of work. Why not just give everyone an”S” for showing up and a “P” for participation, along with a trophy to boost their self-esteem before they go out searching for a job?

  44. John Potwora says:

    Classic Marxism. I just happen to be reading a book by Max Eastman, “Stalin’s Russia and the Crisis in Socialism” (1940), and these idiots have been trying to do this kind of nonsense for decades.

  45. It is a Lib belief that they should not be held accountable for their actions; this stems from this belief.

  46. I made horrible grades in high school (North Texas Schools). I did not like school because it held very little interest in me. It bored me. I had more interest in just learning on my own by reading books from libraries (had no computers) on subjects that interested me, no not romance teen books LOL. I never had any good teachers who actually helped us LEARN anything – just taught by the book and on to the next class. Grades had no bearing on me at all. Due to some family issues (nothing positive) I ended up getting my GED. Eventually I went to college and earned degrees a Business Administration, than later as an Analyst and Forensic Investigator. Graduating with 3.8 and 3.9 GPA. I have had nothing but high paying professional careers.

    Every child is different and a good parent will help find them the best course to further themselves in life. For ME, graded never mattered in jr/sr high. What mattered was life experience and applying myself to university. I had drive too, which I am sure that helped in my success.

    Schools need an overhaul, dramatically. And kids need to learn outside a classroom.

  47. Cannot fix my typos above…tired and typing on phone.

  48. Evergreen College in WA used a system of non-graded evaluations by teachers, I never had the time to wade through all that. Consequently, I never hired their graduates. It did satisfy some requirements for certification, but some of the students after four years of evaluations had a small book to go through. Didn’t have time to do that when filling positions. Sad, there must have been some outstanding students who were cheated out of positions by their institution’s insistence on an unrealistic and unworkable evaluation system.

  49. Doug Oritz says:

    Who wouldn’t be absolutely thrilled to have a heart surgeon with a “Participation Diploma” from medical school be the one to perform their open heart surgery.