In a Mastery-Based progression, we gradually move away from a system in which the teacher dictates the pace, and organize the curriculum in a linear fashion. Instead we give access to students right away to a Mastery Map with all the different standards/skills of a given curriculum or unit with the intent to give them opportunities to practice at their own pace the skills they need the most help with.
The natural continuation of this effort is to give students access to simple standard/skill-based assessments allowing them to test for mastery when they feel ready; an "A La Carte-At Your Own Pace" system of assessment so that students can prove themselves and their teachers that they have indeed become a master of a given competency.
This strategy will give you ideas and tools to create a system in which students can prove mastery of a skill when they are ready and in different ways. It is applicable at any grade level and to any content area.
Updating the status of this standard on a public Mastery Map (See “Mastery Map and Standard-Based Peer Tutoring” strategy in the BetterLesson Lab )
Updating the status of this standard on a private Mastery Tracker (consult the “Progress and Mastery Tracker” strategy in the BetterLesson Lab )
Updating you in person by showing you the knowledge they learned
If the score does not indicate mastery yet, what will students do? Options can include:
Joining a small group intervention about this skill
Meeting with the teacher for tutoring during class or after
Re-taking the course/playlist aligned with this standard
Meeting a standard-based peer tutor to analyze mistakes
Having access to specific remediation resources
As you iterate on this system, consider the idea of giving students over time choice over how they can be assessed for mastery beyond the mini-quiz. Options can include:
Battling with the Boss, a strategy located in the BetterLesson Lab that puts the teacher or other students gatekeepers in charge of organizing a quick "video game like battle" with students who think they are ready to show mastery.
Create and teach (or record) a mini lesson that would demonstrate mastery of this skill.
Creating a product that would demonstrate mastery of this skill.
Using digital systems of assessments for students to demonstrate mastery is a powerful tool for students to take ownership over their learning in a distance learning setting.
Create a digital mastery map of all the skills or standards you expect students to master in a given unit or the whole year. Consider using a Google spreadsheet or document and enabling students to view and comment.
Determine how students will be able to demonstrate mastery on each skill or standard.
For example, students might complete an online playlist using Deck.Toys, Problem.Attic, Sutori, or Gooru.
Students could also post on a Padlet, FlipGrid, or on your learning management system, such as SeeSaw.
Other tools such as Socrative, Mastery Connect, GoFormative allow for students to demonstrate mastery.
You may choose to have students take a self-creased quiz using Google Forms or a quiz from a resource, such as Khan Academy.
Consult the Better Lesson strategies Mastery Map and Standards Based Tutors and Battling the Boss for more ideas.
Consider how students will access the assessments and get a score on these assessments when they are ready. Review the following questions as you determine how students will access the digital or virtual assessment:
Do you want students to demonstrate that they practice a skill or standard before taking the assessment?
If so, you can require students to complete steps or a playlist before they can access the assessment.
If you prefer students to take an assessment with you, how will students indicate to you that they are ready to take the assessment and how will you set them up to do this?
You could require students to email or message you when they are ready for the assessment and schedule a 1:1 video session with you to take the assessment. For an asynchronous option, students could create a recorded video of themselves completing the assessment using Loom or FlipGrid.
How will you score students' assessments? Will students receive an automatic score or will you have to score students' individually? What systems will you use to communicate students' scores?
Consider using the Mastery Map that you created to digitally move students' names when they have mastered a skill or standard.
Once students receive their score, consider what you will do if students achieve mastery or if they need more practice.
If students achieved mastery, consider using the BetterLesson Standards Based Peer Tutors strategy. Students could become tutors to other students on a specific skill or standard. Also consider extension activities for them using any number of digital tools (Sutori, GoFormative, Problem.Attic etc.). You could also have students post a reflection to a FlipGrid about their learning process, what helped them achieve mastery, and what they learned.
If students need additional practice, consider creating an additional playlist of tasks for them to complete using Sutori or another similar tool.
If students need to be retaught a lesson, you could either record yourself teaching the lesson using Loom or Screencastify or schedule a virtual individual conference with the student. If you need to use a whiteboard, consider Whiteboard.fi. If you think students need a synchronous 1:1 or small group session, encourage them to sign up via Calendly.
For students with limited technology, call or text students directly to offer them 1:1 support over the phone.
Using a system of assessments to demonstrate mastery can help support students with disabilities keep track of their own mastery and help them build self-advocacy skills.
Successful use of a pacing calendar and self-paced assessments requires teachers planning for the variety of skills required of students: emotional regulation, significant executive functioning skills (task initiation, prioritization, working memory, etc.), written expression skills, reading skills and verbal expression skills. In order to support students with disabilities who have difficulty in these areas consider the following modifications:
Teachers should think carefully about the approach of quality over quantity when helping students with disabilities track their mastery using a pacing calendar. Special emphasis for these learners could be put on mastery of the highest leverage skills in a unit.
Student-driven pacing is an important academic skill for English learners to employ to achieve life-long learning goals. This strategy supports guiding learners in self-assessment and remediation at their own pace.
English learners may be required to use all four domains, reading, writing, speaking, and listening during assessment activities. In order to support English Learners consider the following modifications:
Start small with two short multiple choice assessments per standard and try to keep up with the system first before adding elements of choice
If you are providing opportunities to assess when ready, have students track their progress in a public and private tracker at the same time. It is the combination of these strategies that really creates momentum and help students feel in control of their learning progression. When this feeling comes, your students can reach a new level of motivation and engagement.
Do not feel like you have to throw away traditional unit or benchmark assessments in such a system. They can and probably should co-exist as our students are expected to take longer assessments at the end of the year, with a combination of skills tested at the same time.
One way to create synergy between a mastery-based progression and traditional assessments is to allow for the mastery based progression to support also re-mediation after a benchmark assessment. In other words, a student might have moved all his standards to mastery via short standard-based assessments, but a unit test shows that once assessed on all of them at the same time, the score is different. Help students reflect on this contradiction to identify what needs to happen differently moving forward. Some options are:
Student needs additional practice on this particular standard despite having reached mastery at some point.
Student needs to make better decisions when an assessment is not focused on one standard. If so, what methods could you teach them to support this decision making process
Student needs regular practice with mixed skills assignment alongside the standard-based assignments.
Formative allows students to take a digital assessment when they are ready and teachers to track progress and scores live! Assessment can be created based off their library or any of your own assessments. It includes a PDF transformation option so that you don’t have to type up questions and answers inside the tool.
This tool makes creation of digital assessments easier. Students can take multiple standard-based assessments using links generated by Formative, and data is tracked inside the tool.
Masteryconnect makes it possible to create standard-based digital trackers for your classes as well as standard-based assessments that can be easily scored digitally if taken on the site directly or scanned by a webcam or a phone/tablet camera. The scores are then automatically versed into the digital tracker
Mastery-Based digital tracker makes the process of monitoring progress easier. Assessments can be easily delivered and scored, on paper or digitally.
Problem-attic is an expansive database of test questions taken directly from State assessments. You can create an assessment in seconds, as well as an answer key. You can also deliver the assessment digitally or print out a PDF version of it.
In a mastery based progression, it is vital to be able to create quick multiple versions of standard based assessments. This tool can help streamline this process.
Quizizz is a free platform that allows you to assign self-paced and self-scored quizzes to students. You can easily add gifs to the questions, and students can complete a quizizz when they feel ready to prove mastery, even if the rest of the class is not.
Quizizz supports this strategy by providing teachers an easy way to give students self-paced assessments, that they can elect to take when ready. It is also a bonus that the platform makes the idea of taking an assessment quite fun by its gamified aspect.