Mastery learning: A new approach to grading

Mastery learning is designed for students to truly understand the material rather than just memorize it.

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Mastery learning is designed for students to truly understand the material rather than just memorize it.

Leah Boone, Co Editor-in-Chief

The 2020-2021 school year is already vastly different from anything students or teachers have experienced before, With these major differences comes many trials and tribulations. Online learning is a large adjustment for most students, and some of their grades may reflect that.

Mastery learning is a new addition to remote learning that was introduced this school year in hopes of remedying the lower grades a student may get while adjusting. Any quiz or assessment that a student scores below an 80% on, the student has the ability to retake it.

“Given the online learning part, it’s probably a good thing because we really need to be patient and understanding with everybody; with each other, students with teachers, teachers with students,” said AP Government and Politics teacher Christian Borkowski.

Teachers also have the option to allow a student to retake the assessment even if the student scored over an 80%. It is each teacher’s choice to decide whether they use this option or not.

“I’m going to allow my students to, with one exception: the only thing I won’t let you retake is AP practice college essays,” said AP Literature and English teacher Matthew Fossa. “I tell you what you did wrong, so there’s nothing to retake. But any other assignment, yes you can retake it.”

However, if a student chooses to retake an assessment, it will be different questions on the same topic. This change is to ensure that students do not just memorize test questions, but instead they understand and “master” the material. 

In order to retake an assessment, the student must sign up for a meeting with their teacher on a Flex Friday. The student must take the new assessment on Zoom before the next test or quiz in the class.

“I think it’s a good addition because a lot of kids don’t learn well online, so this takes some of the pressure off,” said senior Maddie Cohen.

If the new grade is better than the original, it will replace the original in the gradebook, or become an average of the two grades. The teacher can decide how many times a student can retake the assessment, and retaking it requires review with the teacher during tutoring hours on Flex Fridays.

“Especially in a subject like English, where it’s not content based, it’s skill based, I would rather you keep practicing the skills,” Fossa said. “I think it works well for you guys when you don’t have the same amount of exposure to your teachers.”

Overall, remote learning is something that both teachers and students must get acquainted with. Mastery learning is designed to relieve some of the stress everyone involved is feeling and make this situation a little easier.