How to Create your own Mastery Based Learning System

Here are some steps that I think you can follow to create and implement a unit that follows a similar system in your own classroom (ANY SUBJECT!)   Please, feel free to reach out to me and ask questions or get help with your own system!!!


Steps Relevant Resources / Links
1.       Pick a unit you will be teaching in 4-6 weeks- you don’t want to rush this!  
2.      Chunk your unit up into 3-5 ‘topics’ that you can track mastery on.


3.      Write the learning targets for each topic. One topic can have anywhere from 1-8 learning targets. The LTs should be small, and in student friendly language!


Common Core Algebra 1 Learning Targets
4.      Create an assessment that gives the student equal opportunity to display mastery on all of the learning targets for each topic.


2015 Tests
5.      Create a rubric or scale that clearly assigns a Mastery Level for their work.


iSchool Mastery Scale

iSchool Mastery Math Percentages Scale

6.      Create a mastery ticket if giving a test or quiz, or use the rubric if your working with a paper or project.


Mastery Ticket

Table to determine Mastery Level


7.      Determine how you will communicate the student’s mastery using your current grading system.


8.     Determine if and how you will track the data quantitatively over time (this is more advanced and optional, you may not want to do this the first few times)


Excel Data Monster 
9.      Backwards plan your unit to make sure you cover all of the learning targets (you shouldn’t have to change much about your plans!)


10.  Create a reassessment for each topic.  If a student does not earn mastery you’ll need to have an alternative way for them to show you what they know after reviewing. You may also want to create some sort or revision or reflection that they must complete before being able to do the reassessment.  If possible, make a video lesson for each topic for students to watch as a review assignment if they don’t earn mastery (again more advanced, but try to learn more about an amazing tool to create video lessons)


iSchool Math Corrections Template 

Algebra 1 Video Library 

11.   Teach your unit, give your assessment, share mastery levels and reflect.  Think about if you can keep up with this work, was it helpful for you and your students?  Did they enjoy it?  Are there any changes you can make to improve your system? Talk to other teachers who are also engaging in this work!




Please feel free to contact me to help you do this in your classroom! you can do it!!!!  🙂


About sarahpwallace

NYC iSchool MATH
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2 Responses to How to Create your own Mastery Based Learning System

  1. Yelena Weinstein says:

    Sarah, this is super helpful, especially samples of tests and grading tickets. I’ve just started thinking about implementing mastery-based model. This year I teach Algebra 2 and (non-AP) Statistics. In both subjects, many questions involve more than one learning targets. For example, to solve a system of equations algebraically, you need to also know how to solve quadratic equations, and to solve it graphically, you need to recognize an equation of and graph circles and and parabolas. This is just the first question I have, but I was only able to formulate it looking at your post.
    Thank you very much,


    • sarahpwallace says:


      So glad to hear you’re interested in Mastery Based Learning! There are a couple of ways you can break down your mastery topics to help with this. You can use bigger ‘buckets’ like Algebraic Solutions and Graphical Solutions OR you can have them all separate that build on each other. So in your example I would have solving quadratic equations as a mastery topic in my quadratics unit. Then I would do solving quadratic systems in my systems unit. But if a student earned mastery in the solving systems unit it could possibly earn them mastery in the old topic too! You can also have a question broken down into part a, b,and c where each part falls into a different category to better show the student what they have mastered and what they need to improve on.

      Hope this helps! Feel free to ask more questions to email me directly ( !

      Good luck!


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