Employers urged to require transcripts from high schools Group says its plan will send message to students

June 04, 1998|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

Seeking a stronger link between high school and the rest of students' lives, the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education urging businesses to require high school transcripts as part of their hiring processes.

"For students, we are sending the message that what you do in school counts that getting by is not good enough and that attendance and punctuality really do count," said June E. Streckfus, the group's executive director.

The program, Achievement Counts, was to be announced today at the business roundtable's annual meeting.

The policy is expected to provide employers a tool for hiring qualified workers, lead to better prepared employees with strong work ethics and eventually reduce hiring and training costs, Streckfus said.

A high school transcript lists the student's courses, grades, attendance records and functional test performance. It also includes performance traits that are rated, such as the ability to work well with others and meet deadlines.

Information such as race, gender and disability status will be eliminated to avoid possible discrimination against applicants.

Each of Maryland's 24 school systems has its own transcript, though a task force will try to bring uniformity to them this summer and ensure confidentiality.

Maryland is the only state and one of six locales in the nation selected by the National Alliance of Business to begin requiring transcripts.

About 15 percent of Maryland businesses ask for transcripts, Streckfus said, and late last year, Lockheed-Martin Corp. began requiring them for jobs requiring a high school diploma, said company spokesman Raymond V. "Buzz" Bartlett.

For the program to affect student attitudes and achievement levels, "a critical mass of employers" will have to adopt it, Streckfus said. The roundtable plans to promote the program widely throughout the summer. About 100 representatives of 70 of Maryland's largest employers were expected at this morning's meeting.

"We think it's a good idea," said Bartlett. "You can learn a great deal about an applicant's attitude [from a transcript]," such as a person's willingness to take progressively more difficult courses, and the likelihood of being at work on time every day.

Educators, too, are enthusiastic.

"It would give tremendous credibility to high performance and good attendance," said Robert Kemmery, principal of Eastern Technical High School in Baltimore County. "I think [students] want to be recognized for good work, and this would be another way to do so."

About 30 percent of Eastern's graduates work full time after graduation, and another 20 percent work while attending community college part time. For Eastern, the volume of requests for transcripts would increase markedly.

But Kemmery doesn't see that as a drawback. "I think it would work very well in a system that's already set up" for college-bound students who need transcripts, he said.

The roundtable envisions that students would be responsible for providing the transcripts; those under 18 would need their parents' permission for an employer to look at the transcript.

Pub Date: 6/04/98

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