Definitions of Different Types of Competencies - Mastery-Based Learning


State standards provide the foundation—the grade-level learning progressions that teachers use to design their curriculum—but schools determine how standards will be implemented, including which standards must be met In an ideal world, every student would meet every standard. But the reality is that teachers may not have the time to address every standard as comprehensively as they might want to, and not every student will master every standard. Mastery-Based Learning Simplified recommends that schools prioritize the most essential knowledge and skills, and then work backward to design the curriculum. By using prioritization and the principles of backward design,schools can certify achievement of essential standards and significantly increase college and career preparation 

Content-Area Graduation Competencies are aligned with state standards and learning progressions, and they describe the most essential content knowledge that students will need to succeed in adult life. Students demonstrate achievement of content-area graduation standards through their aggregate achievement of performance indicators over time.

Cross-Curricular Graduation Competencies are aligned with cross-curricular state standards, and they should describe the most essential skills and habits of work that students will need to succeed in adult life. Students demonstrate achievement of cross-curricular graduation standards through a body of evidence, such as portfolios, exhibitions, or capstone projects that are evaluated using common rubrics.

Performance Indicators are aligned with content-area and cross-curricular state standards. Performance indicators provide more detailed descriptions of what it means to meet a graduation competency. Achievement of performance indicators may be determined using summative assessments—either common school-wide assessments for a content area and grade level, or course assessments developed by individual teachers. Over time, a student’s aggregate performance on summative assessments determines whether performance indicators have been met.

Typically, if a district is looking at graduation competencies for a 9-12 grade span, there are 5-8 graduation competencies per discipline. Each graduation competency will have 5-8 performance indicators.  If a district is awarding credit by course using competencies, typically, performance indicators are distributed among appropriate courses.

The following diagram illustrates how the Mastery-Based Learning model works in practice:

Mastery Based Learning Simplified

Based on the work of the Great Schools Partnership