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Business groups seek look at grades

April 17, 2000|By JULIE E. GREENE

Students would have to turn over their school transcripts to prospective employers under a proposal by a group of business and education leaders.

The Washington County Board of Education voted unanimously last week to endorse a national pilot program called Achievement Counts that would encourage employers and students to take student transcripts seriously.

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Students who don't plan to attend college may not think their grades are important, especially since employers don't tend to ask for their transcripts when they apply for jobs, Robert E. Anastasi, executive director of the Maryland Business Roundtable Foundation, told board members Tuesday.

In a survey Public Agenda conducted from 1997-98, 84 percent of students said they would work harder in school if they knew prospective employers would review their transcripts, Anastasi said.

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Only 15 percent of Maryland employers questioned in 1997 said they ask to see an applicant's high school transcript, Anastasi said. That rose two years later, when 43 percent of employers surveyed said they sometimes ask for academic records and 13 percent always ask.

Achievement Counts tackles the issue from both sides.

The roundtable will work with the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission and the Greater Hagerstown Committee to encourage employers who aren't already doing so to ask for applicants' transcripts, said Suzanne Hayes, Chamber chairwoman-elect.

"I think you'll see a lot of support," Hayes told School Board members Tuesday.

The Maryland Business Roundtable for Education, a coalition of 115 companies that have made a long-term commitment to support education reform and improve student achievement in the state, will work with local business groups to recruit and train young business people. The business people, in turn, will go into ninth-grade classrooms next fall to encourage students to do well in school.

Roundtable officials said they believe students with good grades and attendance will get better job offers if employers read the applicant's transcript.

"We believe students that start behind in the workforce stay behind," said June E. Streckfus, executive director of the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education.

Roundtable officials had planned to ask business executives to talk to students about the importance of their school work. They altered their plan after students said they'd rather hear from younger business people who graduated recently and could discuss the impact their school work has on their jobs, Streckfus said.

The speakers bureau has already been used in Baltimore and Harford counties.

County schools Deputy Superintendent Theresa Flak said the program should help address concerns local business executives have had about graduates' job preparedness and attitudes, Flak said.

The roundtable plans to add information to their Web site at www.mbrt.org by Aug. 31 so parents can get tips on how to conduct effective parent-teacher conferences and how to interpret test data, Streckfus said.

Achievement Counts does not require funding from the school board, Streckfus said.

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