• Beth & Tim Manners

How to Measure ‘Performance’ for Admissions?

Updated: Sep 19, 2019

Education Week: “Imagine a high school where students skip standardized end-of-course tests. Instead, to pass a class or graduate, they show off the results of big projects they’ve done, such as analyzing why the United States lost the Vietnam War or how geometric patterns can be used to produce solar energy … The trouble is that most college admissions officers already must review tall stacks of applications quickly. Few can carve out more time to read long descriptions of students’ work or watch videos of their presentations … how can college admissions officers get a quick and accurate sense of what students from performance-based schools have accomplished? A few projects around the country are trying to answer that question.”


“One of those initiatives, Reimagining College Access, wants to lower a key barrier to considering performance assessments in students’ admission applications: colleges’ software systems … most colleges use software systems designed to process students’ grades and test scores, but they can’t accept videos, research papers, and other projects. Reimagining College Access … works to create or find online platforms that can accept those kinds of student work. With the resources to spend more time on each student’s application, the most selective private colleges are the ones most likely to be able to examine more complex forms of student work … The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for instance, allows students to upload ‘creative portfolios’ that capture research, visual and performing arts, and maker projects.”


“A project based in New England has designed model profiles to help schools that use performance assessments convey their work clearly to colleges. They’ve also designed model transcripts to reflect the nature of students’ work in performance-based schools … The new model transcript provides more detailed information than ordinary transcripts. It uses a 1-4 grading scale for students’ courses. But it also provides grades for crosscutting skills, like problem-solving, and for mastery of specific standards within each subject. In English, for instance, students’ proficiency is graded separately in reading comprehension, reading interpretation, writing range, writing research, discussion, and presentation.”

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