Journeys to Mastery Learning

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Journeys to Mastery Learning

Schools eager to make the move to mastery learning understand that the process of change is one that requires commitment, innovation, design thinking, and clearly defined targets for growth.

MTC's Journeys to Mastery Learning Framework

Having learned so much from member schools about their unique pathways to mastery learning, MTC developed the Journeys to Mastery Learning Framework, which articulates a set of core competencies that provide aspirational goals yet practical steps to support school communities in designing efficacious change strategies that will transform learning, teaching, and educational systems for good.

This framework is a guide to inquiry, collaboration, and iterative design, not a blueprint for change. While each school will forge its unique path to realize mastery learning in the context of its community, these essential design elements are vital to shifting to mastery learning and implementing the Mastery Transcript.

Draft your Call to Action to create your school Vision Statement Create your Graduate Profile that describes what students will know and be able to do in order to succeed in college and career Create your Framework for Mastery Learning that establishes shared pedagogy grounded in research Define Building Blocks including Mastery Credits, that support mastery for all Create an Implementation Plan to build and sustain capacity for mastery learning
Purpose & Vision Graduate Profile Learning Model Alignment Sustainability
What is your compelling reason to innovate? What will success look like for all learners? How will learning and teaching need to change? How do school culture, instruction, and structure function to support your learning model? How will you build capacity to sustain changes over time?

A New Look for the Journey

When we initially designed the “roadmap” image to depict the Journey framework, it appeared linear, representing stops along the path that must be approached one domain at a time. We’ve come to realize through our research and learning directly from our member schools that, in many cases, targeted efforts at transformation are happening across multiple domains, often simultaneously. The revised framework below, which replicates the “credit profile” graphic included on a student’s Mastery Transcript, includes expanded explanations of school-level competencies for each phase of the Journey to Mastery. These indicators were informed by Aurora Institute’s Definition of Competency-Based Learning and MTC’s own research and knowledge about school change in a mastery learning system.


Purpose & Vision: What is your compelling reason to innovate?

1Stakeholder Buy-In (Foundational)
Our school has engaged in a deep review of the current state, gathering community input and feedback from multiple stakeholders to make a case for change.
2Learning is Constant, Time is Variable (Foundational)
Our learners progress based on evidence of mastery, not seat time.
3Equity-driven Decisions (Foundational)
We employ strategies to ensure that the principle of equity for all students is embedded in the culture, structure, and pedagogy of the school. 
4Learner Leaders (Advanced)
Our learners are empowered to lead conversations and co-design the process by which the school redefines an inclusive and just vision of success for all learners.
5Community Impact (Advanced)
We make connections with the larger community to advance learners’ ability to collaboratively and meaningfully seek and build solutions to community-based problems.

Graduate Profile: What will success look like for all learners?

1Vision of Success (Foundational)
Our faculty has developed and uses rigorous, common expectations for learning (knowledge, skills, dispositions) that are explicit, transparent, measurable, and transferable.
2Vision-System Integration (Foundational)
We partner with the larger community to promote and design all learning experiences, events, and community-based opportunities around advancing learners' attainment of the vision of success.
3Captures Diverse Perspectives (Advanced)
We have co-created the vision of success with and for learners (and their families) of diverse backgrounds, especially with learners who have been historically underserved.

Learning Model: How will learning and teaching need to change?

1Mastery Credit-Informed Instructional Design (Foundational)
Our school uses building blocks (mastery credits) of common expectations as the basis for constructing learning experiences that are meaningful and lead towards mastery of skills.
2Student Agency and Voice (Foundational)
Our learners are empowered daily to make important decisions about their learning experiences, how they will create and apply knowledge, and how they will demonstrate their learning.
3Meaningful, Student-Driven Assessment (Foundational)
Our learners engage in (and may co-design) assessment experiences that are meaningful, positive, and empowering for students that yield timely, relevant, and actionable evidence. 
4Shared Vision for Learning/Teaching (Foundational)
Our educators have developed a shared language, common expectations, and shared pedagogical vision across the entire school. Educators use and hold themselves accountable to the educator competencies that we've collaboratively developed and continually update to reflect the needs of our learners.
5Real-World Experience (Advanced)
We ensure that every learner has opportunities to interact with and have an meaningful impact on the larger community through learning that is project-, problem-, or inquiry-based.
6Anywhere, Anytime Learning (Advanced)
Our faculty recognize and welcome evidence of learning created/curated beyond the confines of the school's physical plant and daily schedule.

Alignment: How do school culture, instruction, and structure function to support your learning model?

1Timely Support (Foundational)
Our educators provide and our learners receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs.
2Success Pathways (Foundational)
Our students engage in learning actively, using different pathways and varied pacing.
3Feedback for Growth (Foundational)
Our learners receive meaningful and actionable feedback (in place of traditional permanently recorded grades) to support them in their learning growth. 
4Mastery Transcript (Foundational)
We use the Mastery Transcript to capture student learning in a holistic manner.
5Peer-Peer Feedback (Advanced)
Our learners engage meaningfully in peer-peer feedback cycles that are embedded into the workflows of evidence creation and curation.
6Exhibition and Defense (Advanced)
Our learners conduct meaningful defenses of learning via school-wide events, panel reviews, or student-led conferences that involve and engage experts and other interested parties beyond the school faculty.

Sustainability: How will you build capacity to sustain change over time?

1Professional Excellence (Foundational)
We maintain a student-centered approach characterized by organizational flexibility and commitments to robust professional development and continuous learning.
2Reflective and Strategic Iteration (Foundational)
We use our school's vision, holistic assessment data, feedback from students and the community, and postsecondary learner data to continually adjust and improve our mastery learning model.
3Mentoring (Advanced)
We actively seek out and develop mentors to support new hires or those needing additional support to internalize the mindset and practices required by the learning model to achieve the Profile of the Graduate.
4Policy Development (Advanced)
We continuously review and revise our policies to reflect the culture and practices we've adopted to achieve the Profile of the Graduate.

Case Studies

One of the core strengths of MTC’s diverse network of schools is that it brings together public and private member schools who are facing similar challenges and offer connections and insight to one another. This is reflected in our initial series of MTC member school case studies that features schools whose Journeys to Mastery Learning have some similar shapes and paths, but with distinctly different contexts and steps.

Download Case Studies


Pathways High School: Designed for Success


The Big Why: Tilton Introduces the Mastery Approach


Northern Cass: Can Greatness Replace the Culture of Ranking


Driving Improvement with the Learning Sciences at Champlain Valley Union High School


Personalized Learning at Singapore American School Out


Synthesis: Mastery Learning in Action

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