How does missing work fit into mastery-based grading?




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    Susie Kang

    Hi there -- I completely understand your reasons for assigning blank grades for assignments that have not yet been turned in, and I understand that it would not be factored into the student's mastery grade. But say that for a standard, a student had 3 assessments to prove their mastery of the standard. If they only did one assessment (and they met the standard on that one), but did not do the other 2 assessments, it would appear as if the student still met the standard, because the 2 other assessments wouldn't even show up under the standard. Wouldn't the student then believe that they only have to show mastery once, instead of proving it multiple times? I would want the student to be able to consistently prove their mastery of a standard, not just once. In that case, should I enter in the incomplete grade and not leave it blank?

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    A tricky and important question.. and unfortunately one with no single answer (that I know of).  I think I poured my heart out above, explaining our case for the blank value.  Since writing that, I've had many more conversations on this topic with teachers and administrators from our partner schools... so here's a bit of an update!

    This issue is central to mastery-based grading, and often the biggest point of friction that we encounter with teachers.  Many arguments for a "pure" implementation of mastery would say that you as a teacher are responsible to provide that student with more opportunities to demonstrate mastery in such cases.  Others would say that the Character (or habits of work) Standard Types that JumpRope supports are your way of giving feedback to a student concerning their consistency (you can read more about this here (  Still others would say that teachers should collect assessment data over time but NEVER average it - instead, they would say that a teacher should return to each standard and give a "final rating" for each student when assessments are all done and thus account for "lack of sufficient evidence" in their final rating (you can read about our "Final Ratings" feature here (  Finally, I know plenty of teachers who insist on accounting for "lack of evidence" by marking it as a zero - in many cases, this may be the right move to properly motivate a student to participate, and you may in fact know nearly for certain that the student has not mastered it by your observation of their lack of participation.

    Ultimately, it's my opinion that ultimately grades should come down to the teacher's discretion.  No system is better at giving feedback to students than an attentive, competent, caring teacher.  You know your students best, and I trust that you'll make a decision that gives them the feedback that will motivate them to succeed.  In other words, please feel free to "game the system" if you feel that it's necessary on your quest to give your students meaningful feedback.  I encourage you to discuss this further with your colleagues and make an effort to norm this issue for your school, as I've seen students get hopelessly confused if the response from their various teachers is not consistent.  I also encourage more conversation on this thread, as I'm sure that there are others with ideas and opinions!



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    Gus Goodwin

    I have a similar question to Susie's. If I put an "m" in for one or two out of three or four assignments, many students do not care because they are happy with the 3 they did receive. So how do I follow your idea of "refusing course credit" (below)? Do I have to go in and override every time a student is missing x amount of work? Or can jumprope be set up to not award credit when x amount of work is missing?
    If the student believes they are earning a "3" (even though they are aware of the missing work) what happens at the end of the semester? How would I refuse course credit? And is there a way to post a warning under missing work something like: If you are missing more than two (or whatever) assignments then you will not receive credit for this course. Then if a teacher wants to forgive an assignment because a student was on a trip to Kenya or with his dying favorite aunt, then the teacher can leave the assessment blank and it will not count against her or him.
    If you were to similarly REFUSE COURSE CREDIT until the student demonstrates level 2 (minimum) mastery on at least 2/3 of learning targets for your class, the student must suddenly think about which standards need to be mastered, seek out resources, and have to figure out a whole new system to "game" (during which time he might actually learn something).

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