Now a growing trend in schools, ACDS implemented mastery-based assessment four years ago throughout the middle school program. The new grading and assessment practices followed by each middle school teacher ensure that a student’s grade is only a reflection of how she/he performs against a course’s established standards. Learning habits (organization of time and materials, active and thoughtful participation in class, effort, and perseverance) are recorded and reported through our Learning Traits Rubric and inform how students can more efficiently and effectively meet standards. The disaggregation of learning habits and performance against a standard ensures that students master the skills and concepts that will allow them to thrive in high school, college, and adulthood. Shifting the focus from grades to effective learning traits and skill mastery, the ACDS academic program emphasizes deep learning, student reflection, and perseverance. Grades are still given, but they are more meaningful and reflective of actual performance, and students have more ownership over their learning.
Rick Wormelli, educator, author, and leader in the field of mastery-based learning commented on our podcast on the subject:
“Wow — Thoughtful, professional discourse here, worth downloading and using for personal reflection or as a catalyst for faculty discussion. These education leaders and practitioners offer powerful insights with practical applications. I’m grateful they took the time to create and share such coherent reflections/reasoning on their practices. This is exactly the kind of conversation highly effective schools should be having, and with these podcasts, they’re setting a high standard for us all. Thank you, Alexandria Country Day School.”