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Mastery Based Learning

For Kindergarten – 5th grade.

What is Mastery-Based Learning

Mastery-Based Learning refers to systems of instruction, assessment, grading, parental communication, and academic reporting that are based on students demonstrating understanding or mastery of the knowledge and skills they are expected to learn as they progress through their education.  

In a Mastery-Based Learning (MBL) environment, students progress towards consistent demonstration, understanding, and application of the grade level standards with the ability to transfer knowledge to real-life situations. Research supports that student retention is not an effective practice and should only be used in rare cases. Therefore, students who are not progressing will be identified early and provided the necessary support to master state standards and to be prepared for the next instructional level. Student progress is monitored regularly throughout the school year through formative and summative measures. Parent involvement early in the process is essential to student success. 

Helpful Videos & Resources

MBL Infographic (click above for pdf)

Why are we utilizing MBL in Colonial?

What is the Power Law and Natural Learning Curve?
How do I know if my child is progressing

An MBL Progress Book Guide

Click play on the video to the right to learn more about the Mastery-Based Learning progress Book

Proficiency Levels

-Based on End of Year Expectations

The student consistently demonstrates an understanding & application of the grade level standards and the ability to transfer knowledge to real-life situations.

The student has not yet demonstrated a consistent understanding & application of the grade level standards and/or has limited ability to transfer knowledge to real-life situations.

The student is still developing an understanding of the standards, may be working below grade level expectations, +/or is often in need of continued support and intervention.

The student consistently demonstrates a deeper understanding & application beyond grade level standards and the ability to transfer knowledge to real-life situations.



Why are we moving to Mastery-Based Learning (MBL)?
The previous standards-based system did not provide detailed enough information for parents, students, and teachers. It was vague and not consistently applied across the district. MBL provides an opportunity for increased and more accurate information about student learning.

How are grades calculated?
Student assessments are aligned directly to curriculum standards. Grades are collected on each assessment and are calculated using an algorithm called the Power Law. Similar standards are grouped and averaged into a reporting category to give students an overall grade.

How often will I receive Progress Reports/Updates?

  • Two Progress Reports per year:  January and June
  • Parent Conferences: Fall (November) and Spring (March)
  • Additionally, teachers will communicate regularly about progress through a variety of means to parents and students.

How are reporting categories decided?
Reporting Categories group standards that are similar. In most cases, these standards were grouped together by the groups that created the standards.

How will this new grading system help me better understand/help my student?
This system allows teachers and parents to see specifically what strides a student is making toward an end of the year goal. Parents can see specifically what skills a student is working on, based on the reports. This system provides an advanced level of transparency between the district, the teacher, the parent, and ideally the student. This new level of transparency and understanding is ideal for an environment where all stakeholders are working together to meet the needs of the students.


How can I know if my student is on track?
The teacher will be able to communicate not only during conferences but through regular communications that your child is on track. It’s normal to expect a child to be at the ‘Beginning’/’Progressing’ level in the first part of the year. As the year progresses, you will notice your child scoring at the ‘Progressing’ and ‘Proficient’ level.

How can my student get Honor Roll?
There is no longer Honor Roll.

How will I know if my student isn’t successful?
During conferences, teachers will communicate to parents as early as possible if a child is struggling to meet the standards. If that is the case, the teacher will communicate how they are working to support the child to improve through a variety of interventions.

How can my student get a Beyond?
While the main goal of Mastery-Based Learning is for a student to be proficient on grade level standards, students who have already achieved a proficient will occasionally be given the opportunity to achieve a beyond on assessments. For a student to achieve a beyond, the must be performing at a level that is well beyond their grade level expectations in many standards.


What is the “Power Law”
The Power Law is a calculation that accounts for both the assessment score and the date of the assessment. It produces a score that more accurately represents a students’ learning than a traditional grading system. It gives more weight to the most recent assignment that a student has completed. The calculation does not punish students for the time it takes for them to learn a skill.

What is the Natural Learning Curve?
The Natural Learning Curve is the understanding that growth occurs over time. As with all things, when someone is introduced to something new, like learning to play the guitar, they will be at a beginning level. However, as instruction and practice is provided and learning occurs, they will improve their skills towards mastery. As students demonstrate their understanding of the concepts within the standard, the more accurate our understanding of student learning becomes. This reinforces the understanding that it will be common for students to be at a beginning or progressing level at the outset of the year with the goal of being proficient by the end of the year.

Still have some questions?

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