By Meg Stentz

Each fall and spring, MC schools host visits to spotlight strong mastery and CRE practices. You can register here for this year’s visits, which run November 19- December 5, starting at Frank McCourt HS where the staff will share how they make expectations clear from the outset and focus in on rubric design.

As we gear up for the learning and excitement of our fall visit season, we look back on some take-aways from last year’s spectacular set of visits.

MC community members chat with students about their work at the NYC iSchool.

MC community members chat with students about their work at the NYC iSchool.

1. Mastery supports positive learning identity.

In a mastery-based learning environment, expectations are clear from the start. Feedback is targeted to precisely what students know and can do--and provides key next steps to improve. This approach supports students in developing a can-do learning identity, and helps them to understand the learning process itself. These are practices that help students to experience success.

Flushing International High School science teacher Jordan explains it this way:

"I was talking to a student and he said, 'I'm really bad at math." So I said, let's look at what outcome that is, and the outcome was 'Writing with evidence,' so I asked: 'Are you really bad at math or did you not write with evidence?' And he said, 'Oh, I'm not bad at math.'"

2. Mastery-based grading increases transparency and includes students in the conversation about what their grades mean.

"We used to dread giving out report cards, because there were always kids who were totally surprised, no matter how many times you spoke to them throughout the semester. There were always tears or cheers, or whatever. But with outcomes, it's much more of a conversation. It's much more narrative. Instead of, 'It's a B,' there is written feedback that really describes what that grade represents."  -Grace, teacher at Flushing International High School

3. Mastery opens the door for students to demonstrate learning in multiple and varied ways.

At Pan American International High School at Monroe, the staff values how mastery learning allows them to see mastery in students who may come to school with gaps in language proficiency or past schooling, but who take on rigorous content nonetheless. The educator team at PAIHS-Monroe wants to be sure that language gaps do not act a barrier for students as they demonstrate progress and mastery of learning outcomes in disciplines such as math and science.

Principal Brigit Bye explains: "We think about all the ways they could demonstrate this outcome, and you start listing all these things, and any of that is fine."

Thanks to all the MC schools that host visits for the MC Community! You always do us proud, and we see you and appreciate you.

Have your own take-away to share? Drop us a line at