Mastery-Based Learning

In each of the past four years, the Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Committee has examined a different facet of the academic program using research, student feedback, and teacher expertise. During the 2019-2020 school year, the committee made several recommendations to our grading practices, including using more simplified grading scales, accounting for different access points to resources at home, and emphasizing what students learn rather than how they behave.

The traditional 0-100 grading scale is heavily weighted on the failing grade range (0-50). Teachers are now using 50 as the lowest grade a student can receive on assessed work. Doing so removes the disproportionate influence that a low grade has and more equitably distributes points when determining student grades for the semester or end of year marking periods.

Marlborough teachers will no longer lower grades for late work. Penalizing a student for late work focuses on her behavior, not the actual learning. Teachers will work one-on-one with students whose work is repeatedly missing or late. Work not turned in by the end of the grading period will receive a 50.

As of today, cohorts of early-adopter teachers, in World Languages, Science, and Math are implementing mastery-based educational practices.  These include the use of clearly articulated learning targets and success criteria, and encouraging students to take part in a relearning-reassessment cycle to optimize their mastery of course material.  

In recent studies, students and teachers implementing these practices report less stressful, more relational classrooms, students feel a greater sense of clarity and transparency around expectations, and the quality of teaching and learning increases.

Laura Hotchkiss

Associate Head of Academics, Director of Upper School

Sean Fitts

Director of Middle School