Not Up to Standard: Stories of High School Transcript Issues
The main problem with moving from school to school isn't anything that has to do solely with us, but the policies and practices of our schools. I'm sure we've all heard our parents complaining about how the school you are leaving or the school you are going to isn't being very helpful in the transfer of our transcripts. This is an important part of moving to a new school, as it not only mandates what classes you will take, but also gives the school a sense of what type of student you are, and what you are capable of doing. However, since nothing is ever as simple as it sounds, transcripts are one of the largest issues faced when it comes to transferring schools. Some schools don't want to accept credits because you took them in middle school or junior high, or because the credits don't line up with their curriculum, or even because they don't want to you to miss out on their classes, even if you've already taken them. Some schools even attempt to make you retake classes because they don't think that a previous school is up to their standards. It truly is an irritating thing. And when your previous school sends transcripts from a couple of grades ago and not the previous grade's transcripts, you're left wondering "why?"
Bloom recognizes the challenges military teens face when transitioning between high schools, which is why we have gathered stories of issues members of our community have encountered in the process. We hope that you can relate to some of these stories or may find a solution if facing similar problems. We also hope that members of the education community and schools around the country will listen to our voices and offer more assistance and understanding to military teens.
In 8th grade, I had completed Algebra 1 as a homeschooler. When I moved to Pennsylvania for my freshman year of high school, they easily accepted my homeschool credits. When I moved to Florida for my sophomore year, I had already completed Geometry, with all As. At my new school I started Algebra 2, and I flying through with As. But two-thirds of the way through my sophomore year, my new school informed me that I would have to take Algebra 1 AGAIN, and then take the end-of-course exam for Algebra 1. We had just started sorting this whole mess out when COVID-19 hit. I still don't know whether or not I have to retake the class I took over 2 years ago!
~ Elena A.
The school I attended in ninth grade and the school I attended in tenth grade have different credit and time requirements for graduation. Specifically, my situation involved health and physical education. I left my ninth grade school with 0.25 credits for physical education and 0.6 credits for health. (Yes, 0.6. Weird, right?) My next school only requires 0.5 credits for health, so that was easily resolved. The physical education situation was slightly more complicated, however. My new school gives one credit per semester, and one gym credit is all that is needed to graduate. Though I left my previous school with 0.25 credits, I had taken the equivalent of one semester's worth of gym. (Class was two days a week for both semesters.) Since I didn’t need to, I didn’t want to take physical education again. (Seriously, that always seemed like the dumbest class to me.) Luckily, my issue was resolved easily; I proved to my counselor with a few documents (transcript, course requirements from my old school, letter from my previous counselor, etc.) to prove I had taken the required amount of physical education to graduate, and my efforts were successful.
~ Henry J.
Nearly every move I go through I have some sort of transcript issues. Most are small, which tend to be them misreading my transcript and not assigning me the right classes, which is usually something that’s easy to overcome with one meeting. However, the main issue I ran into regarding transcripts was when I moved overseas. Although it was an American DoDEA school, they completely didn’t recognize my physical education or health credits and they labeled it as the end of the discussion. While it doesn’t impact my education too greatly, it creates a huge annoyance when I have to retake simple classes instead of getting to try a new class, especially when the school didn’t help with solving the problem at hand.
~ Griffin S.
I attended Carlisle High School in PA for freshman year and received .25 credit of P.E., since, according to their policy, 4 years of P.E. would accumulate to 1 whole credit, the minimum to graduate. The course was essentially a semester, and when I moved to Camp Humphreys, South Korea that summer, I just assumed it would be no issue. However, Humphreys High apparently has a policy that they cannot alter credit values even if the amounts are equivalent. Despite arguing with the counselor, presenting a letter form my previous school stating that I had fulfilled HHS's credit requirement, reaching out to the School Liaison Officer, and even sending up the issue to the mysterious, all powerful, faceless "board", my school REFUSED to budge on the issue. Honestly, they exerted more effort resisting my request that it would've taken to just give me the credit. Consequently, I have to now retake a semester of P.E., which wouldn't be so bad if we actually DID anything in P.E. at this school.
~ Matthew O.
I had a transcript that only had letter grades on it and no number grades so my mom contacted the school to ask for a transcript with the numerical grades for the classes. The old school took forever to send the new transcript, and they sent the same transcript but with my numerical grades handwritten directly on to my transcript. The grading scale was also different so I had a 92% in a class that was counted as a B so my new school was very confused as to why I had a B that should have been an A and they had to change my GPA for the 92% to count as an A in their grading scale.
~ Carolyn P.
My dad left for South Korea for a deployment in my 5th grade year, so my mom wanted to go back home, (she’s from Germany) so she’s took us to go live with her family from March-June. There I went to a German school. Then my mom decided we were going to go to move to Oklahoma City to live with my dads parents. There I did my 6th grade year and the school had to talk to me about my credits for 5th grade, because the school in fort Campbell and in Germany didn’t transfer my transcript. Since the middle school had no proof I did my 5th grade (or any elementary school) they were going to make me go back and redo 5th grade. But luckily my mom was able to get ahold of the district (the school I went to in fort Campbell shut down) and get my paper work. I ended up going to 6th grade 2 months late and I had to take intermediate classes until I could test out of them and work my way to normal classes. Which was awful because I’m in all ap classes usually. But I finally got all normal class by second semester, but it was a pain.
~ Kimby M.
When I first moved to Arizona in the fourth grade, my transcript wasn’t immediately sent. So I was unable to be in the GATE program and also had to retake my ESL test. On top of that I wasn’t in the top reading class due to the fact the school thought I was behind, so for the majority of the fourth grade I wasn’t challenged. Although it was elementary school, I still feel like that gap in my education had an effect on me.
~ Kira B.
My new public high school wanted me to take an extra year of Spanish even though I already had three years. I had to email my middle school in South Korea to have them resend my transcript.
~ Kendra B.
I lost high school credits PCSing from Virginia to Iowa. I was still able to graduate (a year early), but felt unchallenged as I had to retake classes I’d already taken. It made me feel bored and unhappy at my school.
I moved from Virginia to Washington my freshman year. At my school in Washington, freshmen took physical science, but I had already taken it in eighth grade out in Virginia. We had to talk to my counselor and my former teacher to get the documentation stating that I already took physical science and passed it. Luckily, my school let me skip physical science instead of retaking it, so I ended up in chemistry with a bunch of sophomores and juniors.
~ Ella J.
This happened at the first and last public school I went to for one year (sophomore year). There wasn’t many issues but there was a few. First the history credits I had taken in England (freshman) didn’t match to to what was required out of there school so I took an unnecessary credit. Second they wouldn’t let me take Spanish 2 bc they said I could wait till Junior year. So my mom had to explain that I wouldn’t be here and made them change it first day of second semester. Also when I went to leave the school at the end of the year (only there for 1 year) they wouldn’t give us my transcript. First they gave us one paper then my mom said these aren’t transcripts. It took several calls and trips back and forth (the issue was they didn’t want to give them to us bc they didn’t think it was allowed) to fix it. We eventually got them and I’ve returned to Dodea schools. I’m grateful to be done with that school because that school didn’t understand the military lifestyle and just made everything harder.
~ Taylor A.
I lost so many credits going thought 3 different schools in a year and a half. It really has put me behind that I take AP classes and stress myself out so I can gain two credits at once.
When switching from an accredited private school, the high school I had graduated from at first refused my transcript and lost it multiple times along with the previous school’s accreditation paperwork. In the end it was fixed after a lot of fighting for it but I ultimately had to redo P.E. My least favorite subject.
~ Hayden H.
I have been very fortunate to not have encountered many transcript problems. I had one potentially problematic issue with transcriptions and changing schools. I lived in North Carolina at the beginning of my high school experience. North Carolina does not have separate maths, rather they have what they call “NC Math”, which is a combination of multiple math subjects into one class. If I didn’t have to move, this wouldn’t have been a big deal since I would have completed three years of math. When I moved to Carlisle [PA], I went to Carlisle High School to discuss classes with my counselor. He noticed NC Math One in my transcripts and explained to me that Carlisle does not accept that. After talking with him for a while, we were able to find a solution. This problem might not have occurred if the US would adopt a nation wide education system instead of allowing each individual state to decide what to teach and how to teach it.
~ Isaac B.
Transcripts are painful to deal with, yet are very important for our futures. Of course, schools don't make it easy, but there are standards set in place to help transitioning military kids: The Military Interstate Compact. The purpose of the Military Compact is to make sure all military kids receive an equal and consistent education, making sure that they are not at a disadvantage. Schools that abide by the compact pledge to offer support and alternative options to transitioning high schooler in order that they may graduate on time. The challenge of changing schools and transferring credits will always remain just that, a challenge, but with the support of the compact, your school liaison officer, and your parents, these issues CAN be dealt with.
For more information on the compact, visit DoDEA's guidelines HERE.
Intro and conclusion written by Anna V. and Matthew O.