Mastery Assessment

Assessment in the classroom is vital. It drives the curriculum and gives teachers a good idea of where students are in their understanding of a topic. However most teachers and schools adopt the traditional approach to assessment – teach a topic, give students a test, assign students a grade and then move on. The assessment train only goes forwards – student’s test results for each topic are set in stone, and are not used to increase individual students understanding.

The reverse of this is mastery assessment, a concept I first came across a year ago when I read Sal Khan’s book The One World Schoolhouse. The idea is logical; test results are used to inform future teaching of the SAME topic, and so increase students understanding of it.  And instead of using long, end of topic tests, mastery assessment works best with smaller tests given more often.  With tools such as Google Forms and Flubaroo, teachers can do this without creating lots of extra marking work – students can complete tests online at school or at home, with multiple choice questions marked automatically.

Mastery assessment is something that I’m experimenting with in my own classroom, and is a topic that’s received some more attention with levels being scrapped in the UK National Curriculum.

If you’re a teacher, why not try to implement mastery learning in your own classroom?  It’s got the potential to increase student learning, and in so doing, engage your learners more.

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