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TMCNet:  MasteryConnect Releases Mastery Report Card to Help Teachers and Parents Shift from Letter Grades to Mastery-Based Grading

[March 19, 2014]

MasteryConnect Releases Mastery Report Card to Help Teachers and Parents Shift from Letter Grades to Mastery-Based Grading

SALT LAKE CITY --(Business Wire)--

Education technology company MasteryConnect announced today that it has reinvented the student report card, shifting the paradigm from letter grades to what students know and don't know. The new Mastery Report Card has been piloted with select K-12 educators and is now being released to schools across the country.

"What does a 'B' mean?" That's the question Willard, Missouri, superintendent Kent Medlin took to his faculty last year as they were contemplating revising report cards across the district. Medlin found that grades lacked consistency from one class to another. "The letter grade 'B' means one thing for one teacher and another thing for another teacher," Medlin said. He came to the conclusion that "the grade card, and how we communicate learning to parents, had to change."

Medlin's district recently piloted the new Mastery Report Card designed and developed by MasteryConnect, which provides K-12 curriculum and assessment tools for teachers. The response from parents, educators, board members and the students themselves has been positive. Medlin feels like they have taken a significant step to level the playing field. "We are laying dramatic amounts of information at their feet to help them understand their student's learning."

Based, in part, on the success of the Willard Public Schools pilot, MasteryConnect is publicly launching its new Mastery Report Card, which features a percentage of "standards mastered" in the place of traditional A-F letter grades. The Mastery Report Card looks more like a Google (News - Alert) Analytics dashboard than the traditional letter grade format, with circle graphs, bar charts and green, yellow and red indicators to show exactly which standards the students have mastered and which ones they need help on. "The way we teach our kids and track their performance has changed," Medlin said. "It's time the report card changed, too."

Willard County, Missouri, may be leading the way on report cards, but they are part of a much broader trend. State and Common Core standards initiatives across the country have een pushing districts and administrators to find ways to track student performance of individual standards. The traditional method of rolling points from things like homework, quizzes and tests into a term average could not adequately convey what students know and don't know relative to these new standards. The state of Maine recently announced that they will be moving all of their K-12 schools to "proficiency-based reporting" by 2016.

There's even a coordinated effort by a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation partner and non-profit called The Learning Accelerator to get colleges and universities to accept mastery-based reporting in lieu of traditional GPAs for admissions purposes. "We are excited to see growing momentum towards mastery-based transcripts, " said Scott Ellis, The Learning Accelerator's CEO. "We are starting to see a correlation between students who have been assessed based on standards and their readiness to take responsibility for their own learning, which is something universities increasingly value."

Trenton Goble, co-founder and chief learning officer at MasteryConnect, sees a trend: "The Mastery Report Card has tremendous potential to help not just the parents and the teachers but the students themselves focus on what they need to learn," Goble said. "A student who gets a 'B' thinks, 'OK, I'm doing well enough,' but a student who gets an 85 percent mastery of standards taught asks, 'What's in the 15 percent? What am I missing?' Those are powerful questions. And the answers are right there on the report card."

"If a parent understands that their son or daughter needs help with ratios," said Danielle Sellenriek, curriculum director for Willard Public Schools, "they can do a lot with their student at home to help make up the gap. This is about getting everyone on the same playing field and identifying where the work needs to be done."

One of the challenges for educators looking to create mastery-based report cards has always been succinctly conveying a much larger volume of information than the typical A-F format required. With this in mind, the Mastery Report Card provides an intuitive, color-coded visual depiction of mastery term-by-term or year-to-date. The Mastery Report Card can also be customized to provide other information, such as attendance, work habits, behavior and more. "This feels like a real game-changer for students, educators and parents," said Medlin.

The release of the Mastery Report Card comes on the heels of the company's recent news that it had secured an additional $3.425 million in funding from its Series A investors, including Catamount Ventures, the Michael & Susan Dell (News - Alert) Foundation, Deborah Quazzo of GSV Advisors and Learn Capital. The past year also saw the release of MasteryConnect's Resource Pins platform that allows teachers to find and share standards-aligned resources and materials. MasteryConnect also released its Next Generation Science Standards app in partnership with the National Science Teachers Association, and its popular Common Core app is fast approaching one million downloads. In December 2013, MasteryConnect became a featured app partner with Microsoft (News - Alert) Education.

About MasteryConnect

MasteryConnect is a market leader in curriculum, assessment and mastery learning tools for K-12. Headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, MasteryConnect makes it simple for teachers to share standards-aligned assessments and resources, track student mastery of state and Common Core standards, and collaborate in a global professional learning community. The MasteryConnect learning platform is currently used by more than 36,000 schools and 10,000 districts in the U.S. For more information on MasteryConnect, visit www.masteryconnect.com.

For more information on the new Mastery Report Card, including a video presentation, visit www.masteryconnect.com/reportcard.


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