From The New England Journal of Higher Education
Published April, 2016
By Erika Blauth and Sarah Hadjian
The movement toward proficiency-based learning is gaining momentum at secondary schools across New England and beyond. Proficiency-based learning is the system of instruction, assessment and grading based on demonstration of skills that meet performance standards or “proficiencies.” The goal of proficiency-based learning is to better prepare students with the knowledge and skills necessary for success in higher education and 21st century careers.
As proficiency-based education models become more common across the country and the region, high school students and parents have raised questions and concerns regarding how proficiency-based transcripts will be viewed in the college admissions process—especially at highly selective US colleges and universities. Of greatest concern is whether proficiency-based learning and grading will disadvantage students in the college application and evaluation process.
To help answer these questions, the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) and the New England Secondary School Consortium (NESSC) convened a meeting of admissions leaders from highly selective New England colleges and universities and facilitated a robust discussion on the topic. Overwhelmingly, these admissions leaders indicate that students with proficiency-based transcripts will not be disadvantaged in the highly selective admissions process. Moreover, according to some admissions leaders, features of the proficiency-based transcript model shared with the group provide important information for institutions seeking not just high-performing academics, but engaged, lifelong learners.