MasteryConnect Eases Common Core Alignment, Instruction & Tracking

Three years ago Doug Weber and Mick Hewitt had left a web design agency and were consulting on a social network in Japan. During that same time, Cory Reid was CEO of Instructure. Trenton Goble, a school principal, and Mick were training for a marathon and discussing Trenton’s frustrations around tracking progress of formative assessments in a mastery learning approach.
Goble wasn’t alone.  Thousands of teacher struggled with the time it takes to truly adopt a mastery-based approach.  The most widely used tool for mastery tracking in the last decade was a spreadsheet—and it seemed like every TFA teacher and KIPP school had developed their own.
Trenton asked Doug and Mick, “Can you make this easier for me on the web?”  After hearing some rumors of a Common Core, the duo began to brainstorm about the potential of a national network of shared assessments.  They discussed how to solve the grading-by-hand problem that plagued the formative process in getting real-time feedback into the hands of students and parents.
In 2009, they launched the beta of MasteryConnect to make it easy for teachers to create and share Common Core aligned assessments, to score assessments quickly and return feedback to students, and to track student progress. CEO Mick Hewitt wondered how they could solve the grading problem, “As we created MasteryConnect, we thought about what hardware do teachers currently have in the classroom.  We saw a lot of document cameras that could be used for scanning bubble-sheets, and we saw the emergence of the tablet happening.”
In 2011, MasteryConnect launched a free community for teachers with premium services for schools and districts, a Common Core App for iOS, Android, and Windows 8.  The app makes standards easy to reference for educators and parents, and has been downloaded over 500k times. MasteryConnect also provides a widget version of the app that schools can embed on their website. The widget has been embedded in more than 8,000 school websites.  Collectively, the standards within the two tools have been viewed over 38 million times.
MasteryConnect is now the largest social networking site for formative assessment.  More than 55,000 teachers are using MasteryConnect. By Thanksgiving 2012, more than 2.5 million formative assessments had been scored.
The visual performance tracking provides teachers and administrators real time information on what students know and who needs help. A parent dashboard quickly communicates progress against Core standards.  A conversation changer.
MasteryConnect has linked to lots of content including over 3,000 videos from Khan Academy all linked to the Common Core.
Last December New Schools Venture Fund, ImagineK12, and Learn Capital (where I’m a partner) contributed over $1 million in seed funding. Another round of funding is planned for closing next month.  Cory Reid is now the COO and Trenton Goble serves as the Chief Academic Officer of the Salt Lake City based startup.
This two minute video explains how MasteryConnect works in a nutshell.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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