Alternative Credentialing Needed

I happened to be listening to some back to school coverage on TV this morning and of course the Common Core standard was brought up along with the question of college readiness. As we have been homeschooling now for two years and our twins are entering 10th grade we have been thinking a lot about these two related but separate questions: (1) how do we help our kids get ready for college (they both want to go) and (2) how do we convince colleges that they are in fact ready.

So this past summer we hired someone to contact admission offices at a diverse set of schools. What we found was quite interesting. First, we got first hand confirmation of what has already been reported in the press: more and more schools are making standardized tests optional. Second, we found there is a catch: almost all of the schools have dropped the SAT requirement in general are still maintaining it for homeschoolers.

Of course from the perspective of the colleges this makes some sense. Homeschooler transcripts have self-reported grades which may or may not represent a fair assessment of the applicant’s performance. For many high schools instead the admissions offices have a fairly precise idea what a certain transcript represents. Given that admissions committees often talk for only minutes when deciding an individual case that matters a lot.

So, what is to be done? Susan and I believe it makes sense to create an alternative credentialing system for homeschoolers and possibly for students who come from new and more experimental schools. We are thinking about something along the lines of a combination of evaluating a student’s portfolio combined with a video interview. If you are aware of any efforts in this direction, we would love to hear about them!