Assessment - Mastery-Based Learning


A core tenet of mastery-based learning or competency-based pathways (CBP) is that accurate, credible and useful student assessment information plays an essential role in supporting learning. Assessments should be a meaningful learning experience for students, provide rich information to educators so they can provide targeted support to students, and send students and parents clear signals about students’ readiness for next steps. Assessment systems should be designed to help monitor the quality and consistency of determinations about whether a student is ready to move on and signal rigorous definitions of mastery or proficiency. Assessments should vary enough to reflect the personalization inherent in different pathways yet be comparable enough to ensure quality. Students should be able to take assessments as soon as they are ready, rather than wait for the end of the year, so that they can move ahead when they need to do so. 

What Characteristics Differentiate Assessment that Supports CBP?

In a competency-based system, like in a traditional education system, assessments have a variety of uses such as to inform instruction, diagnose student needs and communicate student progress and outcomes to families and broader communities. Assessment in a competency-based system has an additional use – to help validate the determinations that teachers make about student proficiency or mastery of standards.

Additionally, assessments that support CBP often have these characteristics:

  • Allow students to demonstrate their learning at their own point of readiness 
  • Contribute to student learning by encouraging students to apply and extend their knowledge 
  • Require students to actually demonstrate their learning 
  • Where possible, provide flexibility in how students demonstrate their learning (e.g. through a presentation, research paper or video) 

Source: Assessment to Support Competency-Based Pathways

Assessment Pathways Simplified