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Mastery-Based Progression

Blended and personalized educators create common structures that allow for a student to advance to new content based upon mastery. This is different from schools where advancement is based on Carnegie units, or “seat time.” A mastery-based progression approach requires five components:

  • Learning Objectives
  • Definition of Mastery
  • Assessment of Mastery
  • Learning Pathway 
  • Reporting
Paper depiction of an ice cream cone captioned "We are Scooping Up Learning"  with different color flavors showing different learning objectives and where students are in their progression

Learning Objectives

In blended and personalized classrooms, learning objectives are clearly stated and commonly understood by all stakeholders. Objectives (sometimes framed as “competencies” or “learning standards”) are explicit, specific, measurable, and transferable.

Worksheet with definitions of different levels of mastery

Definition of Mastery

Objectives for learning must be connected to clear and common definitions of mastery that are applied and understood consistently across educators, students, and guardians.

Art piece depicting a mountain with levels of mastery indicated from top to bottom and student names are placed depending on level of mastery

Assessment of Mastery

Teachers and students must have clear means to accurately and consistently assess mastery of a given objective against the definition of mastery. The type of assessment might vary by objective or developmental level, but are consistently applied and normed.

Screenshot from ReadingPlus dashboard

Learning Pathway

In blended and personalized schools, students are held to clear, high expectations for mastery. There is common understanding of the relationships between concepts and how they build upon one another to form a pathway to mastery, but each student can follow a customized path based on their individual learning progress, motivations, and goals.

Photo close up of notebook with person making notes in pencil


Reporting tools such as progress reports, report cards, and transcripts need to be adjusted to clearly reflect a student’s mastery of individual learning objectives. This includes a move away from traditional letter grades, separating assessments of effort, work habits, and behaviors from what skills and content a student has mastered.

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