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Transcripts 2.0: Academic Performance and Co-Curricular Achievement

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Content originally published on data180.com. Learn more about Interfolio’s acquisition of Data180 here.

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We found an article published this February in Inside Higher Education that has provided further affirmation of our years of pioneering and development of an online tool to collect, validate and report student activities, culminating in a co-curricular transcript that showcases a student’s holistic growth.

The piece was entitled “Extending the Transcript,” by Matthew Pittinsky. Therein, he makes the point that traditional university transcripts were limited in the information they communicate, and fail to deliver the complete picture of a student’s competencies, skills and campus involvement that modern employers need.

Pittinsky is a faculty member at Arizona State University who co-created and served as CEO of Blackboard and is now the CEO of Parchment — a company focused on e-transcript exchange.

Although educational leaders, political commentators and private-sector employers have called for more emphasis on practical outcomes in post-secondary education, traditional transcripts — which list only course numbers, titles, and students’ letter grade in each course — provide little useful information about the real-world outcomes of students’ academic careers, Pittinksy argues.

“The traditional four-year college experience can be an exploratory time for students to discover their passions and test ideas and values with the help of teachers and peers,” Pittinsky writes. “If a degree is really about developing a whole person, and preparing them with humanistic education that will serve them in a very dynamic career landscape, surely a ledger of courses and grades alone is a poor reflection of that experience.”

To solve this problem, Pittinsky proposes the widespread creation of what he calls Postsecondary Achievement Reports, or PARs. These documents would include traditional transcript data and also incorporate elements of co-curricular, competency-based and data-enabled transcripts, which are already being used at some universities.

“A PAR is a concise, electronic document that provides a standardized, machine-readable report of the full range of higher education experience,” he writes. “It can be verified by the academic registrar to confirm credibility, and it creates a common understanding of both course-based and campus-based achievements.”

Pittinksy points to a similar tool already in use in Britain as a proof of the viability of this concept, and says that it will require collaboration and consensus among academic and educational leaders to create a report format that is consistent from institution to institution and widely accepted throughout academia.

The full essay from Inside Higher Education is available here: https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2014/02/10/essay-calls-broader-concept-transcripts

Content originally published on data180.com. Learn more about Interfolio’s acquisition of Data180 here.