Smart Review | MasteryTrack: Powering Competency-Based Learning

While leading the Learning Accelerator, a national blended learning intermediary, Scott Ellis spotted a critical gap–a consistent way to determine and track mastery.

According to the Learning Accelerator: “Blended learning is the transformative educational innovation of our time and has the potential to significantly improve K-12 education throughout the country. Blended learning is the strategic integration of in-person learning with technology to enable real-time data use, personalized instruction, and mastery-based progression.”

It’s that mastery-based progression that’s super challenging, starting with a consistent way to define mastery. A year and a half ago, Ellis launched MasteryTrack to solve that problem. And this month Scott debuted his “free online mastery-based dashboard system.”

The mastery platform is Scott’s effort to create “a world where students, teachers and parents can see where students are in their learning.”

MasteryTrack attempts to address the five core elements of “mastery-based progression”:

  • What do we want students to learn?
  • What does it mean to “master” a skill or content, and how do we know when a student has done it (what is the “mastery threshold” for each objective)?
  • What is the scalable process by which students demonstrate mastery?
  • What is the scalable process by which teachers assess mastery for all students?
  • How is the data managed, displayed, and used by teachers and students?

The platform values clarity in what we want students to learn, how they demonstrate it, and how teachers assess it. In addition to determining mastery, the platform provides teachers a quick course overview.

MasteryTrack includes automated assessment for K-5 math. It is used to track progress in Mandarin Chinese in 50 schools. A Bay Area school uses MasteryTrack for all subjects. It can be used to track social and emotional learning.

MasteryTrack can help teachers identify the best classroom strategies to use.

MasteryTrack is a binary system based on a standard set of measures. Some schools will prefer to determine mastery based on a blend of multiple measures (e.g., exit tickets, adaptive tests, performance tasks). But if you want to create a shared “crystal clear” picture of the key elements of a mastery-based system, you’ll want to check this program out.

“Mastery-based progression is coming,” said Ellis. “Over the next, few years I predict that this will be the defining aspect of the transformation that blended learning is creating in American education.”

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Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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