Mastery Based Assessment

Benchmarks: are the specific skill sets and proficiency levels that a student must meet in order to successfully earn a credit in subject. Each subject has a different number of benchmarks and students must master all benchmarks to earn their credit and advance to the next level.

· At the beginning of each 10-week capstone, students are given a rubric that states all of the benchmarks they must master during this capstone.
· Specific tasks are assigned for students to gain the necessary knowledge to master the benchmarks.
· Students receive a grade for each task
· A student must master all benchmarks in a specific content area to receive credit
· If a student does not master all benchmarks, they will be given the opportunity to complete the non-mastered benchmarks in a later capstone or participate in  additional activities deigned to re-teach and re-assess the students performance on a particular benchmark.



Ohio Department of Education

The Credit Flexibility Case Study Series was developed by the Ohio Department of Education in collaboration with the Great Lakes East Comprehensive Center, funded by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by Learning Point Associates. The content is provided for informational purposes only and does not reflect the position or policy of the Ohio Department of Education nor does the mention of specific processes, procedures, or programs imply endorsement by the department.
PDF version of document in attached below.

Credit Flexibility: Assessment

As schools and districts are working through their local credit flexibility policies and procedures, many questions arise regarding high-quality, effective assessment of new instructional delivery models. In particular, performance assessments and mastery-based systems provide the greatest challenge in the context of traditional assessment models.

The Metropolitan Cleveland Consortium for STEMHigh School, a regional public high school in Cleveland, is implementing a mastery-based assessment system based on state benchmarks.

Mastery-Based Assessment

Just like the instructional delivery system, the assessment system at MC2STEM High School is organized around 10-week transdisciplinary capstones.

Students are assessed using capstone rubrics and grade cards developed collaboratively by teachers during the design of the capstone course. The rubrics and grade cards measure student mastery of course content and are broken down into the specific knowledge and tasks students must master in each content area based on the state benchmarks for each capstone.

Students receive either a grade of "M" or a grade of "I" for each benchmark or task within the capstone.

An "M" indicates that a student has mastered a benchmark.
An  "I" indicates that a student has not yet mastered the benchmark and that further instructional support is necessary.

MC2STEM High School awards credit when 100 percent of the benchmarks have been mastered. For each benchmark, students must demonstrate competency at 90 percent or better in order to receive an "M". Students who do not meet the expectations for mastery during a specific capstone are not required to retake that course. Instead, teachers work together and with the student to integrate those benchmarks into subsequent capstones.


Unlike courses in a traditional curriculum, MC2STEM High School capstones are organized by large thematic concepts and are broken down into specific units that address benchmarks. When students transfer to a new district, the high school is able to convert its mastery-based system into a traditional transcript.

The grade cards provide a real-time picture of student progress toward mastery of benchmarks. In cases where a student leaves the school and there is some question in regard to a letter grade equivalency, the teachers and administration meet to discuss the student’s performance before assigning a grade.

Nicholas DiGiorgio,
Sep 15, 2010, 3:37 PM