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Getting Students to Mastery
December 19, 2013 | Volume 9 | Issue 6
Table of Contents
Let Movement, Not Mastery, Be Your Guide
Jennifer Davis Bowman
Mastery is equated with success, higher-order thinking, and expertise. Although reaching the goal deserves recognition, at times, our awe of mastery overshadows the critical, incremental academic feats accomplished along the way. Rather than attend to concept or skill mastery alone, teachers must expand their focus to highlight the students' movement toward mastery. One way to accomplish this is through progress monitoring. The benefits of progress monitoring include accelerated learning for students, more informed lesson planning, and improved communication with parents and colleagues (Luckner & Bowen, 2010). There are three important considerations for shifting from a mastery-focused classroom to a progress-based learning environment.
1. Defining Progress
Perceptions of progress may vary, so, before you can measure progress, you must take the time to identify what constitutes progress. The beginning of the school year, or even the start of a semester, is an ideal time to discuss what progress may look like for your students. Explore the following questions with parents, students, and colleagues to establish a shared vision of progress:
2. Monitoring Progress
Once there is a clear conceptualization of progress, the next step is planning specific ways for the teacher to examine progressâ€”how to identify progress and, more important, how to measure it (Harris, 2007; Stecker, Lembke, & Foegen, 2008). These questions will help you get started with progress monitoring:
3. Communicating Progress
After defining and measuring progress, the final step is sharing the results (Keeley, 2012; Luckner & Bowen, 2010). An advantage of progress monitoring is that it facilitates frequent communication about student progress. These questions will guide you toward successful communication of progress data:
Mastery is important, but we need to realize that progress is the prerequisite. Through defining our perception of progress, systematically measuring student performance, and considering how we communicate student progress, teachers can better identify and plan around student growth. As teachers, consider how you acknowledge student growth and how you can facilitate a shift from mastery to movement in your classroom.
Harris, L. (2007). Employing formative assessment in the classroom. Improving Schools, 10(3), pp. 249â€“260.
Keeley, P. (2012, December). Mountain age: Creating a classroom profile. Science and Children, 50(4), pp. 30â€“33.
Luckner, J. L., & Bowen, S. K. (2010). Teachersâ€™ use and perceptions of progress monitoring. American Annals of the Deaf, 155(4), pp. 397â€“406.
Stecker, P. M., Lembke, E. S., & Foegen, A. (2008). Using progress-monitoring data to improve instructional decision making. Preventing School Failure, 52(2), pp. 48â€“58.
Jennifer Davis Bowman is a recent graduate of the Special Education Doctoral Program at the University of Cincinnati. She serves as an adjunct professor for both education and psychology courses at the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati State Community College.
ASCD Express, Vol. 9, No. 6. Copyright 2013 by ASCD. All rights reserved. Visit www.ascd.org/ascdexpress.
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