Author: Joy Nolan

What’s College Like for Students from Mastery-Based High Schools?

April 10, 2019 by

This is the fourth post in a series about the Mastery Collaborative in New York City. This post originally appeared on the Mastery Collaborative’s website on December 19, 2018.

Photos of four graduates of the Urban Assembly Maker Academy

Four college freshmen who are alums from UA Maker’s first graduating class of 2018 shared about their experience of college so far. From left: Richard attends NYC College of Technology; Jazlyn attends City College; Milam attends Dennison College; Ash attends Allegheny College.

Is mastery learning effective at preparing students for life beyond high school?

What happens when students from a mastery-based high school go to a traditional college?

Students, parents, and educators regularly ask these questions. Four alums from the first graduating class at Urban Assembly Maker Academy gave us their take on all this. They are all currently freshman at different colleges. Jazlyn and Richard are attending school in NYC. Ash attends a school in Pennsylvania, and Milam goes to college in Ohio. Here’s what they told us in a conversation over Thanksgiving break.

Understanding college work:

Ash: “We don’t get rubrics in college, but I have mental rubrics—I break it down in my head: This is what a 1 or a 5 would look like. I’m able to break down assignments into the pieces I need to get done. Having used mastery learning at UA Maker makes it a lot easier to determine what I want out of an assignment, and what the assignment entails—because we don’t get rubrics. A minus for me about attending a traditional college is that the first thing you turn in is the final. You don’t get to redo anything.

“In a mastery school it’s easy to know: This is what I’ve mastered, this is what I’m trying to get out of this assignment, because of rubrics. In college it’s: Get it done, get a good grade. I haven’t gotten anything important out of my (college) classes so far. With mastery classes, I got something out of it that I can use in day-to-day life. The things you’re learning don’t feel useless. (In college) you’re learning because (more…)

Student-Led Conferences Drive Deeper Learning—And Are Less Time-Consuming Than You Might Guess

January 26, 2018 by

Joy Nolan

Done decently well, student-led conferences (SLCs, for those who love a good education acronym) transform the oddly brief parent-teacher conference (where’s the student in the traditional PTC? Often not even in the room where it happens) into a showcase starring the learners and their learning.

With an audience as small as one to two teachers and a parent or guardian or two, students show and describe work products from several classes, reflect on their progress, and set learning goals for the near-term future. Seems straightforward enough, but what a powerful driver of learning, student agency, metacognition—and that’s besides their ostensible main goal of communicating to families what each learner is up to, and how that learner is doing. (more…)

The Single-Point Mastery Rubric

January 19, 2018 by

Behold the single-point rubric, my favorite tool discovery of 2017. The resource below is my adaptation of a resource posted at www.cultofpedagogy.com—tweaked for competency-based/mastery-based use.

This streamlined, elegant rubric serves many useful functions. Check out its simplicity and its easy adaptability to one or more outcomes in a single tool. Use it for focused grading, coaching, self-reflection, peer feedback, student-led conferences—the list could go on. And one of its main values is how it solves for several common pitfalls of rubrics along the way. (more…)

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