How do we design alternative evaluation methods that more authentically represent the type of student we’re creating, AND that have utility/value in the existing system? 


What if…

a transcript (or other record of student learning and achievement) could also show a student's resilience, degree of purposefulness, and "wayfinder" mindsets and behaviors?

What if…

we could develop unconventional ways to measure and assess student development across a variety of new attributes, skills, mindsets, and traits?

What if…

this alternative evaluation/transcript were elegant, easily digestible, and delightful to consume?


We are keenly aware that in proposing an entirely new purpose-based school model, we will not be given attention or credibility as a viable option unless we show real consideration, thought, and innovation in how our new purpose-based school interfaces with a larger educational system and world.  The crux of the issue is the question of evaluation.

If our goal is to help develop resilient, purposeful “wayfinders,” how do we do that in a way that goes beyond the current high school transcript?  What new attributes/skills/mindsets/traits might we represent?  How do we actually measure and assess student development in these areas?  And how do we design a method of communicating this information that is elegant, easily digestible, and delightful to consume?



Within the broader challenge of alternative evaluation methods, we've identified four large questions that need to be addressed:

  1. Content.  What is really the most important/valuable information to include?  (There’s an infinite amount of information we could include about a student if we expand beyond a traditional transcript, but we can’t write a novel.)
  2. Measurement.  How do we really know that a student has this skill/competency/etc.?  Can it be measured or qualified?  How?  Who or what is doing the evaluation?  Why should we trust this information and read it with confidence?
  3. Communication.  How do you design for the effective, elegant, and intuitive communication of this information?  What is the form of it?  What media do you use, and why?   How do you show not only what a student possesses, but to what degree?  How do you show relative competence and mastery across not only different qualities of a student but between students?
  4. System Layer. How will the solution fit into the existing system and/or larger ed ecosystem? How will it fit into the system so that the users and evaluators can make sense of them?


design experiments

Take a look at our past and upcoming prototypes, and then share your comments, questions and ideas below! Interested in joining us on our journey of prototyping?  


// February 8 - March 7, 2016

Design Project with Class “Innovations in Education: Imagine the Future of High School”

Project Wayfinder partnered with students in ED338 “Innovations in Education” to explore challenges around the question of alternative evaluation.  Multi-disciplinary student teams were asked to choose a user (such as a the student him/herself, or the teacher, or the parent, or a college admissions officer) and by developing deep empathy for this user and applying an iterative cycle of prototyping/testing concepts, to design a solution that will address many of the challenges we posed above.  

They will present their final solutions on March 7.

  A student from ED338 tests his team's alternative evaluation prototype with high school students visiting from Mount Vernon Presbyterian High School in Atlanta.

A student from ED338 tests his team's alternative evaluation prototype with high school students visiting from Mount Vernon Presbyterian High School in Atlanta.


// January 19, 2016

The Alternative Evaluation Question:  What do you really want to see on a transcript?

We ran a large prototype with about 2 dozen parents and students to explore one of the biggest topics around innovation within secondary education:  if you fundamentally change the model to be a better learning experience for students, with the intent of shaping a different kind of student, how do you represent that learning?

We challenged parents and students to sift through 10 “alternative transcript” provocation cards (below) in a time-pressured situation to start to understand what types of information is most valued in choosing future citizens and leaders, and how this type of information can be best conveyed.

inspiration and futher reading

  Stanford 2025  explored a future alternative to the transcript that was as unique as a fingerprint.

Stanford 2025 explored a future alternative to the transcript that was as unique as a fingerprint.


  • Stanford 2025: From Transcript to Skillprint.  Stanford 2025 was a project to reimagine the future of learning and living at Stanford in the year 2025 and beyond.  One of the core concepts was an interactive, flipped transcript idea called the “Skillprint.”  

Here’s an excerpt from the site (written from the vantage point of 2100):

Stanford also revolutionized the transcript, an obsolete, retrospective, and metadata-poor record of time spent, rather than skill or knowledge acquired.  It was replaced by the “skill-print,” a unique, living artifact of competencies that became a coveted tool for employers to assess the potential of a candidate. Stanford students were aggressively recruited for their versatility and their ability to learn and adapt as rapidly as their companies and organizations evolved.  Though many students continued to work within existing organizations, the majority began charting new career paths and defining new roles that did not exist when they entered their undergraduate experience.”




Feeling inspired?  Journey with us as we scale prototypes this spring.  

In particular, we would love to prototype with college admissions officers and high school counselors.

Comments, ideas, feedback are all welcome below.

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