The Shifts


The learning opportunities on this website are organized into four learning shifts that can help educators better understand how instruction and grading can be more aligned with student learning. It is important to progress through the shifts in order because having a strong foundation in the alignment between grades and instruction is critical to effective implementation of new grading practices.

Shift A: Recognize the Beliefs and Traditions of Grading

The first step in change is recognizing the need for change. This shift will promote reflection upon the origins of your own grading practices and the traditional roots of many of our current grading practices.  Conversations about grading can be deeply personal because we experienced grades as students and were generally successful in traditional grading systems. Now we, as educators, are creating the learning environment for our students. Where and when did you learn how to determine final grades?

Shift B: Adopt a Mindset of Grading for Learning

In this shift, you will be provided with learning opportunities about how more recent research can inform our approaches to grading. You will learn about key findings about the development of experts and fixed and growth mindsets. How we grade students is ultimately a reflection on how we believe we learn. Do you believe that, given the right support, you can learn any skill?

Shift C: Connect Grading to the Learning Cycle

When you change the way you grade, you will also need to change the way you assess, the way you teach, and the way you plan. Understanding these connections is critical as participants begin to incorporate these shifts into their practices. How will instruction change to align with Mastery Grading?

Shift D: Learn Strategies for Mastery Grading

This shift provides examples of practical strategies for Mastery Grading. This is the last shift, rather than the first shift, because the sustained implementation of Mastery Learning and Grading requires that educators understand the “why” of this approach. The power of this approach lies in the empowerment of students in leading their own learning. Do grading practices accurately measure and support student learning?


25 thoughts on “The Shifts

  1. Cyrilly Bakewell says:

    Began teaching elementary grades many years ago and I don’t remember much about grading practices because after being home with kids, I taught in private schools that did not use letter grades. Recently joined LAUSD, and borrowed grading practices and format from other middle school teachers I worked with.


  2. Elizabeth Onyango says:

    Just finished the two-day training on Mastery Learning and Grading. I wish we had more time to allow the information to sink in and to thoroughly practice the new concepts. Very informative, particularly for our students who rely in differentiation.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Karen Jaeger says:

    “We’re working with real individuals, not statistics. Our students have deeply felt hopes and
    worries and wonderfully bright futures. They deserve thoughtful teachers who transcend
    conventional practices and recognize the ethical breach in knowingly falsifying grades. Let’s
    live up to that charge and liberate the next generation from the oppression of averaging.” This quote really resonates with me because we need to think about the child and their self esteem. We want to help them with their growth mindset and not make it all about grades and averaging. We want to alleviate stress and averaged grades promote this. Teachers need to be more mindful of students and be their to help them succeed and not have it all about grades.


  4. Ceballos says:

    As a student, I’ve had ample assignments graded based on rubrics or other grading criteria that helped me understand the culminating outcome. What implementations are now being considered or necessary in the modern mindset to meet the state standards at each grade level? Are we reinventing the wheel?


  5. Erica Roldan says:

    When reflecting on my grading practices, I can understand why the above Shift 1A states what it does. Throughout my career as a student, I have been given access to an online portal where the teacher averages out my assignments and assessments to hand out a final grade. I complete my grading procedures in the exact same manner, whereas I average out the assessments/assignments that are aligned to each given standards or strand to hand out a cumulative grade. I look forward to learning more how Mastery Grading can shift my grading procedures and mindset!


  6. Leo says:

    I look forward to learning about the history and effects of our present grading system and whether there are alternative systems that are more appropriate.


  7. Judith Lynda Fonarow says:

    I think it is very important to grade students when they have achieved mastery of an academic standard. However, it raises the question on a time limit for learning a particular task. However, I would much rather my student valued their learning and not the grade, but it’s hard when he emphasis for high school students is to be college bound, and colleges will emphasize grades.


  8. Noemmy Hughes says:

    This journey of grading based on common core standards and shifts is an interesting idea. I know that it will be a complex journey, but a very necessary one. We were never taught how to grade as educators, we just seemed to adopt the ways of others. This journey should hopefully get us all on the same page to avoid biased grading.


  9. Desiree Treat says:

    I was never taught how to grade. I just kind of pick it up from others and remembered how I was taught. Learning all this, I am excited to endeavor in something “different.”


  10. Kara Ganley says:

    I’m always interested in learning new things, especially if it means more of my students will experience academic success and develop a love for learning. I am interested in examining my own understanding of grading and examining my teaching and planning. The history of grading is truly interesting. One concern I have is grade inflation. I think that can be just as detrimental as zeros in the grading process.


  11. I learned how to determine final grades somewhat during my student teaching in NYC by asking the other physical educators how they graded. Once I became part of the California system I was eclectic and adopted the point system of my colleagues within my department. When I became more comfortable as a teacher in my own right, I developed a point system which worked for my understanding and the students. My process of determining grades has been true to my student’s performance in class throughout the years. I have just recently been reminded by my principal that you cannot deduct points for tardies.(LAUSD Bulletin -1353.1 Therefore I question how many teachers penalize students for being late everyday, causing their grades to be lowered a letter grade or two every 5 weeks that grade are due.


  12. Ralph says:

    This is a good training for shifting to new grading that ensures everyone passes regardless of factors that usually were considered such as achievement and effort. Now we have a 72 percent high school graduation rate!


  13. Pamela Swearingen says:

    I am still interested in delving into new grading practices after 30 yrs of teaching. Hoping this will cut down on loss of quality assessment.


  14. Audrey says:

    I am no longer frustrated with the lack of homework participation because I no longer include it in my gradebook. This shift now has my students focusing on passing assessments versus turning in meaningless homework.


  15. M. Mason says:

    I’m thrilled that we have the opportunity to explore and improve upon our grading/assessment practices which should ultimately improve students’ academic mastery.


  16. Mark says:

    It’s interesting to think over my own grading practices and how I came up with the current percentages I use to weigh a student’s grade. Though I know I am fixed on certain aspects of my grading, I have a growth mindset in searching out better, different, and more realistic ways to grade students other than standardized tests. I usually try backwards planning when leading to my “big” assessment. I hope to gain more insight into getting students to “lead their own learning.”


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