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Is Mastery-Based Grading Better For Students Than Traditional Grades

Mastery-based learning allows every student a chance to master major concepts before a teacher moves on to the next topic. The transformation of the grading system from traditional to mastery-based grading welcomes innovation in ensuring deeper learning. Mastery-based grading focuses on learners mastering concepts rather than achieving set grades.

Mastery-Based Grading System 

In the mastery-based grading system, viewing educational elements is done separately, allowing parents and teachers to identify areas where learners lag and need assistance. The traditional grading system combines all components to determine an overall grade. However, the master-based grading system ensures teachers only combine several elements to derive the classroom participation, grades, scores, and homework.

How Mastery-Based Grading Works

Let's explore the core of mastery-based grading and how it works.

Connected to Learning Objectives

The mastery-based grading system identifies what learners should know and accomplish at the end of a course or program. The grading system clearly defines the earning expectations so that the teachers and parents understand what the student is responsible for learning.

Dividing Theoretical Achievement from Behaviors

The mastery-based grading system makes it easier for teachers and parents to identify learners' problems since it separates academics from work habits, character traits, and behaviors. The traditional grading system combines academics with school behaviors such as class participation, deadlines, and school attendance, making it hard to determine what the learner is excelling at and what they are struggling to grasp.

Mastery-grading goes beyond such an analysis and delves deeper into what the student knows.

Focus on the Learning Progress

Tracking the learning process allows learners to see where they fall short in the curriculum. Educators who use the mastery-based grading system enable students to recognize the importance of doing well academically. The mastery-based grading system identifies and rewards learners, pushing them to work hard and achieve more. This is accomplished by tracking progress throughout the term. 

The mastery-based grading system also assesses learners' achievement at the end of the term or semester. The system allows learners to put more effort into their grades without being demoralized between the course periods.

Implementing Mastery-Based Grading

Switching from traditional to mastery-based grading is possible with a few tweaks to your teaching style and mindset.

Breaking Down the Learning Goals

Educators are responsible for helping learners understand what they expect from them. In mastery-based learning, teachers outline learning targets and make them more attainable. In some cases, when learners are in the classroom, they only grasp the broad concepts from the subject without knowing how they can fully demonstrate them.

When learners don't know how to demonstrate their mastery of a unit, they lag in their learning journey. It's essential to avoid this setback. So, to remedy this, learners can make concepts stick if they are tested. For example, they can put standards into their own words by working in groups or showcase their mastery with the whole class through related activities. 

Single-Point Rubrics

Teachers willing to support learners in mastery-based learning will create a single-point rubric for each unit they teach. This rubric will push students to meet the unit's expectations because it explains what concepts they need to understand to prove their mastery. A mastery-grading scale benefits the learner and the teacher by saving time analyzing specific parts of a unit.

The Outcomes of the Mastery-Based Grading system

When implemented successfully, mastery-based grading can significantly affect a student's education.

Student Agency

The mastery-based grading system becomes effective only when students take ownership of their learning process. In a classroom that exercises the mastery-based system, teachers guide their pupils to track their learning progress and manage their digital learning environment.

Most learners aren't born with the ability to manage their education successfully; instead, they need proper guidance to achieve success. Students work with their freedom and flexibility, using project-based understanding and playlists that allow them to flourish in a mastery-based environment.

Mastery Not Minimum

The mastery-based grading system will successfully transition the mindset of the pupil to grow and develop a deeper understanding of the elements. The mastery-based grading system eliminates letters and numbers from the students' report cards, allowing students to master rubrics they obtain for each standard. The system enables students to have feedback on their assignments, encouraging them to reflect and improve their work.

Final Thoughts

Mastery-based grading encourages students to be aware and more in control of their learning. Instead of traditional grading, mastery-based grading gives a better insight into a student's success or identifies where more support is needed.

Written by Rosslyn Kati
Education World Contributor

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