Five Voices on a Theme: Mastery Learning

Don’t mess with my grading practice!!!  Teachers are just a little touchy about how they assign grades.  Traditional practices are ingrained in classrooms immovable as the Pyramids at Giza.   So, don’t listen to me, here are a variety of voices to put a stone in your shoe and get you to reflect on grading, learning, mastery, and student motivation.
Lynton, a 6 year student from Australia discusses the impact his teacher’s modified grading approach had on his improved writing process. He says, “This year we changed the game, and we changed our classroom. I was able to get feedback all the time. I was able to use technology. I learned to self-assess. I had time to revise and check my work which made my writing better.”
Gerry Varty, a Canadian educator, describes the mathematical irrationality and plain unfairness of the misuse of the zero in grading.  Click on the link above to see the entire thread as Mr. Varty shows us how to turn a tweet into a blog post with threaded tweets.
Kim Lepre, a teacher at Rancho Del Rey Middle School explains succinctly and passionately the rationale for her standards based grading system, in which she provides targeted feedback to her students so they know exactly what to work on and she can easily group students by their greatest needs to provide targeted intervention.  Though her focus is standards-based grading, she embraces the concept of feedback for improvement which is a hallmark of mastery-based grading.
Mari Venturino, a teacher at Mar Vista Academy has been on a journey that began with standards-based grading and morphed into mastery-based grading.  She describes the positive impact this has had on her students’ renewed effort and enthusiasm for revision.   She states, “And, I saw some of my struggling students working even harder, knowing that it wasn’t too late to prove that they had mastered our science content. By the end of the semester, I saw my students believing in themselves and their academic abilities!”
Finally Alicia Johal, another teacher at Mar Vista Academy embraced a similar pathway as Ms. Venturino.  The transformation of her students’ occurred as she taught them how to use rubrics to self assess and provided a clear model of the expectations for their work.   I love her admonition about the support students need to use technology effectively, “Don’t assume that because they are on technology all day, that they’ll just happen upon the knowledge of how to make a stellar and accurate presentation.”
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