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Common Mastery-Based Practices

Creating a common understanding of mastery practices among staff and students


The first year of Trailblazer’s transition to blended learning focused on professional learning, and helped educators gain clarity about mastery-based learning and why it is important. Trailblazer leveraged the help of Great Schools Partnership to help them further develop their mastery-based system.

The first step in the process was starting with the “why” by building educators' understanding of mastery and how it can improve their students’ education experience. Developing the scoring criteria was the next step in this transition and next year they hope to develop complete units that tie learning outcomes and activities to the criteria. After completing units, Trailblazer believes that curating all of the resources for the units will be the final step in the transition to mastery. Given their experience with change thus far, they are also prepared to adapt as necessary, depending on the success of each stage of the transition.

Current components of mastery at Trailblazer include:

  • Students have choice and voice in how they want to show mastery of their learning.
  • Students are expected to show proficiency in a learning target before moving on.
  • If a student falls behind, the teacher provides them with learning opportunities to address that skill while also introducing new concepts. Students and teachers work together to address the learning gap with support, resources, and whatever else is needed while making sure the student does not fall behind in current work.
  • Mastery-based grading:
    • A score of “3” is meeting mastery, which is generally accomplished by demonstrating an understanding of the concept or skill.
    • A score of “4” signifies moving beyond mastery, which is generally accomplished by showing an application of their understanding in a different situation or scenario.

Strategy Resources

Competency Transition Example: Developing Scoring Criteria at Trailblazer

Teachers collaborate and align on breaking down standards into skills and scoring criteria. Learn More

Parent Example: Competency-Based Learning at Trailblazer

Mrs. Vasquez, a teacher and a parent at Trailblazer, discusses the benefits of competency-based learning... Learn More

Why Trailblazer Decided to Transition to Competency-Based Learning

The principal of Trailblazer discusses the rationale and benefits behind competency-based learning. Learn More