Advanced Credits look to add “page two” to students’ transcripts

The first of the new credits will roll out this year to the Class of 2021, and will continue to grow and evolve over time.

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Joe Lister, Editor-in-Chief

A typical transcript doesn’t describe a student well enough, says Assistant Head of School for Academics Mr. Pat Sillup. To change that, Malvern Prep has introduced Advanced Credits. 

“They’re a way for us to acknowledge the excellence over time, that students demonstrate or a process that they commit to, and to do so in a way that allows us to transcript it, and live sort of above and beyond a great output,” Sillup said. “It’s not a course you take… It’s through that investment that we’ve recognized this excellence you’ve submitted.”

According to Sillup, the idea of Advanced Credits has been something that Malvern has worked on for several years, but hadn’t been ready to put forth until recently.

“It’s been sitting around for a few years.” Sillup said. “We spent a couple of summers, continuing to fine tune, continuing to think about what does this look like and what does that look like. And it wasn’t until last summer, where with this idea of advanced credit, [we said] let’s start with the end in mind, what would be this mountaintop?”

Originally, the release of the credits was planned for the beginning of the 2021-’22 school year, but was held off until Malvern felt prepared to introduce them to each class.

“We launched them in step with the curriculum guide that was just released,” Sillup said. “And then you’ll see as a senior class, throughout the spring you’ll see some students who want to be recognized within your senior class, just to begin to provide examples…”

While the number of students to receive Advanced Credits is not yet designated, those who’ve designed them don’t expect them to be awarded to many.

College Counselor Mr. Ian Harnkess has worked on Advanced Credits since their initiation, and says that students won’t come by any without serious effort. 

“This should be one of the hardest things a student does throughout their Malvern career. Like, we’re almost hopeful that we say no more than we say yes, in some ways, because there’s a certain level that you have to hit,” he said.

Harkness also hopes that Advanced Credits will generate more for a college to see in a student, especially as standardized testing continues to go by the wayside.

“I think, especially this year, testing has gone away. So if the only academic perspective is grades, and if everybody this next year here, is honing in on what’s a 4.00, how do you differentiate yourself?” he said.

Science teacher Mr. Kevin Quinn was also intimately involved in the creation of Advanced Credits, and believes that the higher bar will push students further than they might have beforehand.

“The reason for having them is to encourage students to fulfill what we’re considering our highest level of certainty,” he said. “So we’re telling colleges and selling students at the highest level of recognition that you can get at Malvern Prep is in Advanced Credits, and presumably a lot of students will say, ‘I want to I want to earn that.’”

Quinn hopes that the introduction of Advanced Credits won’t just push students in the classroom, but also in the real world.

“The assumption is that you can’t earn it without actually making a meaningful impact on society, without really developing skills itself, without doing something of substance that’s worth recognizing,” he said.

Quinn expects the rollout this year to be successful, but also expects changes to come as more and more students begin working towards higher achievement. 

“I think what we’ve come up with is a pretty good plan for something that we were working on for years. We’ve had a lot of people spend a lot of time thinking about it and revising and reviewing it, but until you do it, it’s really hard to know how long it’s going to work,” he said. “This first year rolling it out, we’ll probably learn some things about it… I expect it’s also going to be kind of slow, because it’s not a cultural norm here just yet.”