Teachers Describe the Benefits of MasteryTrack
Many teachers across America have used MasteryTrack effectively to transform teaching and learning in a wide range of subjects. Here are a few of their stories about how they implemented the system, how students responded, and the impact on student learning.
MasteryTrack is the pebble that is creating an avalanche in our school.
PaulPaul teaches 6th grade math in Salt Lake City, Utah and has been teaching for nine years. He implemented MasteryTrack for his 6th grade math class in the spring of 2018.
“On the first day of implementation my students were very excited, they really liked the idea of mastery-based learning and moving forward at their own pace. Then for the next three weeks they were completely lost. They came up to me with questions like, ‘How many points is this assignment worth?’ or ‘What homework do I need to do tonight?’ I had to keep explaining to them that we were doing something different now and that these questions are not relevant in mastery-based learning. I would say to them, ‘I’m not going to assign any homework tonight. You know what your next learning objectives are. What are YOU going to do tonight to move forward in your learning?’ It took about three weeks for me to help the students disentangle how we have trained them to learn in traditional classrooms.
“But once they made the adjustment, everything changed. In six weeks I spent more time working with students individually and in small groups than the previous nine years combined. MasteryTrack also bought me time. Because MasteryTrack gave the students the agency to check in on their own progress and we all knew what each student needed, I spent less time in front of the classroom ‘teaching’ and more time working with students individually to support their learning. I know about the flipped classroom, station rotation, and other practices that are part of blended learning, but now I am able to use them systematically and more efficiently in the classroom since the gaps and opportunities are more apparent. The key is that for the first time I have the data about student learning at my fingertips, this makes all the difference. Now students do two or even three times more math in the same time period because they are only working on the content that is right for them. I can clearly see that my students are learning more content and understanding it more deeply than ever before.
“MasteryTrack is the pebble that is starting an avalanche in our school. Our principal and some of my colleagues have started emailing around articles and asking questions like, ‘Why are we assigning homework?’ and ‘What is the purpose of assessment?’ MasteryTrack is causing our entire school to ask fundamental questions about our work. It is dramatically changing how teaching and learning happen in my classroom and enabling me to do things I have never been able to do before. I am seeing new ways to improve my own practice as an educator and helping my students to learn more than ever. I am able to bring blended learning to life in my classroom better than ever before!”
MasteryTrack has created hysteria in our school.
DonnaDonna teaches middle school math in New City, New York, and has been a teacher for more than forty years. She and her colleagues implemented MasteryTrack in math for students in elementary and middle school in the spring of 2018.
“At first, MasteryTrack created hysteria in our school. Students were crying and running from the computer lab, not wanting to study math, not wanting to come to school. Parents were calling to find out why we were traumatizing their children. The initial reactions were not because of a problem with MasteryTrack, our students simply did not know things we thought they knew and they were really unhappy at being ‘wrong.’ We took time to reassure the students and calm everyone down. A few weeks later, things were going fine. Everything had stabilized and students were used to and even enjoying MasteryTrack.
“MasteryTrack enables us to really hone in on students’ individual needs because we know where the students are in their learning and what gaps they have. I can look at a section of MasteryTrack, analyze the mistakes, reteach the math and check for understanding. It’s amazing and targets the learning each student needs to do. We have found that students often ‘learn’ the math, but don’t necessarily retain the concepts or have not mastered the content. The learning curve is so varied across students—some get it right away and are ready to move forward, while others need more time practicing in order to internalize the learning. With MasteryTrack, instead of boring some and rushing others, each student gets what he or she needs.
“As both a teacher and an administrator, I am so glad we have MasteryTrack as part of our school, as we have seen how it really benefits the students. It’s easy to implement, and the students are enjoying seeing the results and targeting the next steps in their learning.”
With MasteryTrack, our students have learned what we previously did not know how to teach.
CrisCris teaches elementary oral Spanish at American schools in Asia and has been a teacher for over ten years. She and several colleagues implemented MasteryTrack for Spanish oral language for more than 300 elementary students during the 2017-18 school year.
“Our first step in implementing MasteryTrack was to create a set of specific, clear, and demonstrable learning objectives for Spanish oral language based on existing guidelines provided by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL). Our team of teachers used MasteryTrack to complete learning profiles of each student. Once the profiles were complete, our job was to begin to see how to personalize learning for each student. This was made possible by the ease of access to data provided by MasteryTrack. We could see the next steps for learning for individual students as well as analyze trends in much less time. The school administration agreed to replace our existing report cards with the mastery-based dashboards in MasteryTrack. This reduced the additional load of competing platforms for reporting to parents and allowed us as teachers to focus on teaching and learning.
“MasteryTrack provided the structure through which to organize our daily work in the classroom, guide the next steps in the teaching and learning process, and track student progress toward higher levels of language proficiency. During the year, our students gained awareness and made measurable improvements in the use of grammatical accuracy in language, which was something we as teachers had not measured nor backward planned previously. Students expressed increased metacognition about the next steps of learning, and as a result began to self-direct their learning. The ability to see learning data allowed teachers to purposefully target instruction to specific learning needs and adapt daily as needed. We also learned and experienced how the ongoing use of meaningful data can change teaching and learning. We saw this happen in our classrooms on a daily basis.
“MasteryTrack is AMAZING! We are on a roll and seeing the dial begin to turn in student achievement. A new way of working with students is spreading through the team. We now use the data about student progress almost every day. MasteryTrack has paved a clear pathway for students to extend their learning beyond the intermediate level of oral language proficiency. As a result of being able to see data, there have been changes to the curriculum that will create a smoother progression for students between levels. Teachers have modified instruction to meet specific needs, and our students have learned what we previously did not know how to teach.”