I'm sure we've all had this experience: We get a set of documents from a student, and there are overlapping dates or gaps in the dates, and we're not sure exactly what's going on.
Should we be suspicious, or is there a good explanation?
Getting a complete educational history from the student can help - at least from high school on up; you probably don’t need to know where they completed first grade.
Let's look at a couple of examples:
Example #1: You receive a high school transcript that only shows grades for the 1st and 3rd year.
If you know they studied abroad for the 2nd year, you don't need to delay their application to ask the reason for the gap. Plus, a complete history can tell you whether to ask for documents for that 2nd year.
Example #2: You receive documents for a Russian vocational program, which can be enrolled in after grade 8 or 9 or after completing high school.
This is a case when knowing what came before a program can be helpful.
If you are looking at a 3-year program, it makes a difference whether this is 3 years after grade 9 or 3 years after completion of high school, and hopefully their educational history will help make that clear.
Example #3: Sometimes the educational history lets you know if they have additional education that would be helpful to include in an evaluation.
I remember a case where an individual was applying to a state education board for a teaching license. The board turned her down because her evaluation included only a bachelor's degree in a non-education field.
It turned out she also had an additional diploma in education that qualified her to teach in her home country. Had we known, we most likely would have asked for the documents to include it in the original evaluation. But we can't ask for something if we don't know about it, so she had to reapply, both for a new evaluation from us and to the state board when the new evaluation was complete.
Getting a student's complete educational history from the start not only saves time asking questions and trying to piece their education together accurately, but also saves the student time and money in the long run and helps them to achieve their goals.
Karen Krug is a Research Evaluator and has been with ECE since 2010. She specializes in education from East Asia, Latin America, British Isles, and former Soviet countries.