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What is Mastery Based Learning?


Mastery-based learning (also called competency, proficiency, or performance=based learning) is an educational approach that makes learning more rigorous, individualized, and meaningful for all students. It allows us to meet students where they are by establishing a transparent set of learning goals with multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery of key skills and content- knowledge and empowering students to move at a flexible pace. We do this through project-based learning. 

Mastery and project-based learning gives students voice and choice in what they learn, when they learn it, and how they show their learning. 

“We are measuring what we want students to have learned as opposed to averaging assignments. Traditional grading averages all of your assignments, or, practices. However, it's the game that matters. We don’t go into the game with a 20-point deficit because somebody had a bad practice.”

Carol Lewis, Assistant Superintendent


So, how do you measure proficiency without a traditional grading system? 

Traditional grading systems often combine academic success with school behaviors (such as participation, deadlines, and attendance) making it difficult to determine what the student is excelling at and what they are struggling with. In mastery-based learning, teachers measure proficiency at skills based on a rubric for each unit. The rubric will push students to meet the unit's expectations because it explains what concepts they need to understand do prove their mastery. Read more about grading here



Curious about what Mastery based learning looks like across Washington State?