RE: DSM: borrowing some material


Bruce Smith (bsmith@coin.org)
Tue, 27 Feb 2001 10:26:04 -0700


This is Bruce at AVS, responding to a couple of different posts.

>I wonder if this could be responded to online as I also have a powerful
>interest in this area. Actually, not so much in translating the work
>into grades, but in putting it into transcript form.

At Alpine Valley School (and, I assume, other Sudbury schools, since we
adapted SVS's form), the "transcript" is a rather simple document. (I'm
going from memory here, so I may miss a few details) One side bears a
statement of the dates of attendance, plus a student's status at the time
the transcript is requested (diplomate, student in good standing, other).
On the reverse is a brief statement of the school's philosophy -- in
effect, an explanation to the official reading it of why there are no
grades or class rank on the front side.

There has been some talk of also listing the offices held by a graduate
(clerkships, committees and corporations) on the transcript, but I don't
think that idea has been acted on, one way or the other.

I don't know if this helps you, Sara, since you are working with
homeschoolers. I suspect there are other resources more specific to your
clientele which may be more useful.

>My understanding, from reading the literature, is that an SV model school
>does not produce any official evaluation of a student, but that a student
>may ask a staff member to write a letter for the student. The letter is a
>personal recommendation, not an official one from the school, but I am
>assuming the staff member is free to air his or her complete opinion of
>the student.
>
>Am I correct in my understanding? If so, does this sort of thing
>frequently occur? Does it seem to help?

Well, I've recently written my first letters of recommendation for a
Sudbury student applying to college, but I can't say whether the official
vs. personal distinction is useful in describing them. This student asked
me to write the letters, and I agreed. They were more personal than many
recommendations I wrote as a high-school teacher, because I know this
person better than I could have known most of my public-school students.
Yet of course I acknowledged that I know her through my work at the school,
so they probably did appear to be variations of the standard teacher
recommendation. As with the transcripts, I regarded these letters as an
opportunity to explain why this student's application is a bit unorthodox,
and why that's perfectly okay (more than okay, really).

This is AVS's fourth year, and first graduates, so I can't say whether this
sort of thing happens frequently at a small school. As for whether it
helps, my letters have apparently satisfied admissions officials so far;
that is, they agree that they are, in fact, letters of recommendation! Now,
whether they _really_ help, and this student is admitted to all or most of
these schools, we'll have to wait and see.

Bruce



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