No matter how much work you may do to invest teachers and students in the language and culture of mastery, there is always the possibility of a disconnect when you begin to communicate mastery to external audiences. Typically this means parents, families, school districts, and even colleges. The problem is that most of the world has been conditioned to understand "grades" as opposed to mastery... as I work so hard to assert in this article.
My promise to you, from personal experience, is that if you tackle this issue thoughtfully (and if you have a plan), the battle can be won! I have worked with many teachers and schools that have made the switch. While it takes time, it eventually becomes the dominant language and culture. At this point, switching back to regular grades can seem preposterous!
Throughout the process, we've found there is a wealth of knowledge within the community of schools we work with. We are happy to connect schools with questions with our experienced schools, as well as weigh in ourselves on best practices. We encourage you to start the conversation below, as I believe it could be valuable to many folks as they work to change the prevailing winds of student assessment and feedback in their school community.
To start, we're posting a "Parent FAQ" that you may wish to include (or make available) as you distribute mastery-based progress reports to parents. You're welcome to use this, modify it, improve upon it, etc. to your heart's content - it was originally created in my school, many years ago, as we undertook this process. We've also included an EXCELLENT resource from our partners in South Portland, Maine, who have created a parent FAQ, as well as a couple of great examples from other partner schools.
Finally, as a bit of inspiration I'd like to direct you to this amazing blog post from JumpRope's own Sara Needleman. Sara has not only been working to advance standards-based education for years, she has a student attending a school that uses JumpRope (coincidence, I promise!): Why Parents Should Be Excited About Standards Based Grading.
Thanks, and good luck!
Since the initial publication of this document we've added to the topic on our Blog. Here are some helpful links!