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Star Struck

The week of May 6th was Mastery Transcript Consortium (MTC) Conference Week Pathways High Dean of Culture, Franz Meyer, and me in Boston and Pathways High Art & Design Teacher, Angelique Byrne, in Houston. For those who may be unfamiliar with the Mastery Transcript Consortium, it is a group of 275 (and growing) diverse schools from around the globe who share the vision of re-inventing how students prepare for college, career, and life. Specifically, the mission of MTC schools is to create a high school transcript that reflects the unique skills, strengths, and interests of each learner. For more information about the Mastery Transcript please see the table below.

For the MTC member schools, much of the value of the MTC conferences is the convening of school leaders who share the same goal of transforming education so that it is learner-centered and reflects and prepares students for the real world. It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day work of swimming against the current of the education status quo. Consequently, it’s encouraging and inspiring to be with so many others from around the world who are swimming against the same current and making progress. You realize that our collective action is getting us closer to achieving a tipping point or cascade, as Greg Satell, author of Cascades, would refer to the transformation we are leading.

At the Boston conference, I was especially excited when I realized I was sitting at the table with one of the authors of one of my favorite education books, Timeless Learning. Chad Ratliff, a co-author along with Ira Socol and Pam Moran, is the Lab Schools Principal in the Albemarle, VA school district. He and his colleague were generous in sharing their experiences -- successes and pitfalls -- with rigorous, real world, project-based learning. Chad’s humility was endearing. I have to admit I was a bit star struck and told him that it’s not everyday you meet the author of one of your favorite books! He responded that it’s not every day he meets someone who has read his book! We both had a good laugh. There is a spirit of camaraderie and collegiality that creates a bond amongst the conference participants after just a short time together. An added benefit is that MTC makes it easy for its members to stay in touch and share best practices outside of the conferences with a web-based networking site.

A point of pride for Pathways High is being one of the first nine schools to pilot the Mastery Transcript in the 2019/20 academic year. Our work as a pilot school is what brought Angelique to the MTC Advisory Board meeting in Houston where she met one of her favorite authors and thought leaders, Tony Wagner! She excitedly sent a Group Me text saying she was sitting at the table with the author of the book she used in her seminar, What School Could Be, earlier this year.

Angelique had the opportunity to talk with Tony, the other Advisory Board members and the MTC staff about her work at Pathways High and our progress with implementing the Mastery Transcript. “For our school, for students, the game-changer will be that they’ll own it [transcript]….I think a transcript before was just a thing that happened, because you went to school and it was just there,” said Angelique. An added bonus was having Tony Wagner tweet about Angelique’s transformational work with our students.

We’re excited that our young school is making these important connections with stars in the education field. We’ll admit we’re a little star struck, but we’re guessing you would be, too. Being on the journey to create a tipping point in education is daunting and exhausting, but also has its perks. Will you join us?


The MTC model is substantively different from the traditional model of assessment that is typically organized around content oriented courses, Carnegie units for credit and A to F letter grades.

Current Transcript

  • Flat, two-dimensional, one page

  • Credit for time

  • Single-subject

  • Grades (little or no definition)

  • Typically limited to academic subjects

Mastery Transcript

  • Digital, interactive

  • Credit for Mastery

  • Cross-disciplinary credits possible

  • School-defined credits with consistent metrics/rubrics

  • Credits can be broader; most schools include SEL/4-dimensions


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