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IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Guess It if You Can! The Quest for the Predicted Grade
By Eddie Levisman 03-Jan-18
I mean, seriously? Are we still debating this old question from the 90s? Every time I move to a new school—which, admittedly, seems to feel more often as you grow older—I face the early October dread: a new IB coordinator telling me that “at our school we have a policy of non-disclosure; please do not share the predicted grades with the students, thank you very much.” Rationale? None. What to do to finally end this problem once and for all? Some of my brightest and most progressive colleagues around the world got it quite some time ago. Many have designed and shared Google surveys, and the results among top schools are overwhelmingly in favor of full disclosure of the October predicted grades for college application purposes. Methods and timelines may vary but the bottom line remains the same: it is considered best practice to disclose predicted grades to students prior to the college application season. Many schools have modified the nomenclature to differentiate the October predicted grade from the one in March that goes to the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) and is mandated to be confidential. So, some schools are referring to the early predictions as “anticipated grades” or “projected grades” or something similar that everyone in the community understands. Imagine, if you will, a counselor´s conversation with a student applying to schools in the U.K., where the whole process basically depends on the predicted grade. Counselor: Where are you applying Mark? Mark: Imperial College is my top choice. Counselor: I see... you’re feeling confident? Mark: I am not sure. For my course they do require a total of 40 and a 667 on the higher levels, one of them must be math… Counselor: Yes, It’s quite stiff isn’t it? Mark: Sure is. I wish I knew what my predicted grades are. Can you tell me? Counselor: Hmm…Well, Mark, I wish I could but school policy does not allow me to share this information with you. Mark: Why not? Counselor: Not sure, you know. It’s better that way. Less conflict, you know. Mark: Can you give me a hint, then? Counselor: Sure! Ask me! Mark: Hmm... Do I have one 7 HL? Counselor: Yep. Mark: Is it in math? Counselor: No, no, no. Can’t tell you that! Mark: Do I have two 7 HLs? Counselor: Nope. Mark: Do I have two 6 HLs? Counselor: Nope. Mark: Do I have a total of 40? Counselor: Sorry Mark, your prediction configuration is too complex to explain. All I can say is that Imperial is not going to be an option for you. I recommend you make another plan. Mark: (almost to himself) Oh Man! If I could only find out exactly what my predicteds are, I would make a better plan for sure. Counselor: (Head scratch.) I think you all get the point. Asking students to apply to college without the minimum tools they need to make informed decisions is not only silly, it is also irresponsible. Don’t ask anyone to fly blind-folded into their future, please. And oh, yes, lest we forget: students actually own their records, and unless they consent, these cannot be kept from them. I would further argue that the main reason schools are reluctant to fully disclose to families the predicted grades is directly related to protecting teachers from the likely fallout of grossly inaccurate predictions. As in, “your prediction left my daughter out of college! You said it was a 5 and she got a 7.” To which I would say, don’t throw out the baby with the dirty water. Train your teachers and become better at the prediction game. It’s an imperfect system, but it can be navigated wisely. Here is a system that seems to function in many schools, including in some where I’ve been employed: make the predicted grades scenario work for you. Strip it of anxiety, mystique, and false expectations. Make it so it becomes an opportunity for a conversation between students and teachers. A formative instance. A teachable moment. Ask all students to make a self-prediction and then meet with their teachers to compare and discuss (not negotiate, however!) what can be improved. You’ll find that students tend to underpredict their own scores. You’ll realize that, when the process is transparent and natural, parents and students alike accept it, grow from it, and move on very calmly. Teachers, too, find comfort and can better assess and predict. Much has been said about the predicted grade system. Truth be told, probably none of us would choose it as the optimal method for making admissions decisions. But the fact remains that, in many parts of the world, this system prevails and is a powerful milestone in the lives of students making the transition to higher education. It’s a somewhat cruel system, but it’s what we have. Let us not be complicit in making it worse for them. Let us be transparent and supportive. Let us, once again, be student-centered about our policies. Levisman International Education Consultants www.levismaniec.com[email protected]
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01/19/2018 - Sammy
Great article Eddie!
01/10/2018 - Morag
Every time I move schools, I have to convince the IB teachers that sharing PGs is essential and fair.
Am I able to share the link to your article with Counsellors in the next IB workshop I'm running?
01/04/2018 - Maxine