Mastery Progressions and Competency Determinations During COVID-19: A Local Lens

On March 30, 2020, the South Carolina Department of Education released their memorandum, “COVID-19 Grade Reporting Guidance.” The guidance, from my perspective, encourages districts and teachers to implement mastery learning by allowing students opportunities to revise and resubmit work to increase their grade. Here is the key phrase I believe is central to the department’s …

We All Need Grace: The Case Against Zero’s

If you ever want a lively educational debate, ask a teacher or administrator about his or her grading system for missing or late work.  What is your policy? Based on survey data, teachers and principals frequently believe it is ethical and appropriate to give zeros for missing or late work (Green, Johnson, Kim, & Pope, …

Rubric Descriptors that Support Student Growth: Focus on Feedback and Action

Rubrics, a common classroom and high stakes tool to measure student learning, tend to describe desired performance qualities of student work on the right and deficits on the left. Oftentimes, rubric developers attempt to quantify student errors by counting or using descriptors such as “numerous,” “frequent,” or “many.” Often such descriptors target the lowest scoring …

Mastery verses Proficiency: Connecting the Two to Serve Students

Do you ever wonder if mastery of standards is the same thing as proficiency in state standards? This is the question I have been thinking about today. Defining similar words that have distinct connotations is important.  I often collaborate with teachers in different states to help define what “proficient” or “college-and-career ready” standards-based thinking looks …

Let’s Rethink the Purpose of Student Learning Objectives

The true purpose of SLOs are to develop and dynamically adjust individualized learning plans for each student! It is the beginning of a new school year. For many teachers, a new school year is like a second, “New Year’s Eve.” We make resolutions to try new technology, practice new mindsets, or implement ideas we learned …