Mastery Based Education

We are super excited to share our journey with implementing Mastery Based Education.  We have been involved with a state department grant to explore various concepts of Mastery Based Education over the last two years.

“Mastery-based education gives students the chance to use meaningful content in ways that encourage deeper levels of learning so they acquire the knowledge, skills, and dispositions essential for success in the 21st century.”  Idaho State Department of Education

In other words, once a student masters a concept it becomes part of their foundation for moving on to new concepts.  Students do not “move on” until they have mastered a concept.  We are exploring what this may look like for Notus Elementary in the coming years and we are very eager to watch our students succeed.  

Last year, we accomplished separating academics from behavior in our implementation of Habits of Success.  Work study habits (Habits of Success) are very much like citizenship grades.  As educators, we want to separate out the actual content grade versus the work study grades.  

This year, we are exploring standards based grading for Mathematics.  You will find on our new report card that math is now graded on a 4, 3, 2, 1 scale.  Hopefully, during parent teacher conferences your child’s teacher shared about our scale and how we are exploring this concept on moving from a traditional grading system to a grading system that is very explicit in communicating strengths and needs in mathematics.  The scale is listed on the report card.  One of the unique attributes of transitioning to mastery based is if your child has scored below meeting standard (3) there are future opportunities, pass the traditional “Quarter” timeframe, that your child will be able to make improvement as they show mastery.  WOW!

Please do not hesitate to give us your feedback as we transition to standards based grading.

Thank you for supporting our learning together,

Jen Wright


Traditional Grading System Versus Mastery Based Grading System


Mastery Based

  • Based on a one time assessment

  • One grade per subject

  • Based on a % system

  • Criteria not always clear

  • Grade is a mix of achievement, attitude, effort, and behavior

  • Penalties and extra credit

  • Inclusion of group scores

  • Grades calculated using a mean

  • Assessments vary in quality

  • Teacher makes decision about grading and announces decisions

  • Based on standard specific learning targets.

  • Measures only student achievement; behaviors reported separately. (Habits of Success)

  • No penalties or bonuses given

  • Includes individual evidence only.

  • Uses only summative assessments.

  • Emphasis on most recent evidence of learning.

  • Use of common evidence and clear rubric to determine mark.

  • Students involved and aware of assessment and criteria.