Changing Your Grading Practices for Learning (K-12)

A Train-the-Trainer Model for Teacher Leaders and Administrators

There have been several urgent calls to change grading practices over the last year and they need to be acted on. However, rolling out an initiative that changes something as monumental as grading should not be done overnight. The impacts of those changes take time and support to successfully achieve.

Built on a train-the-trainer model, our program takes teacher leaders and administrators through what they need to do to implement lasting change to grading practices. By focusing on stakeholder management and facilitation timelines, our participants leave with an actionable plan for success and access to planned content for their teachers.

Join our next cohort on January 31, 2022 and plan the changes needed for the future of grading.

Course Information

Cohort 03 Dates

A More Equitable Approach to Grading

One lesson learned from the pandemic is that we need an assessment system in place that identifies each student’s specific learning over time. While schools grapple with state mandates to identify and mitigate learning loss, the first step is to integrate a system of assessment that identifies exactly what content a student has learned and the level of proficiency gained. The second step is to provide a student-centered structure to allow all students to gain proficiency over time, thus mitigating any learning loss. All student assessments, formative and summative, teacher-created and from outside sources, are integrated in the system. At any time a student should be able to articulate what they have learned from a course and what they need to achieve to gain proficiency of current topics. This is the aim of Learning-Based Grading.

The Learning-Based Grading program is an intensive six-module course for teachers requiring 30-40 hours of participation. Ideally, implementation is rolled out over two years. In order to prepare for the initiative, the first step is a condensed “Train-the-Trainer” model for teacher-leaders (coaches, district content specialists, content consultants, TOSA’s etc.) and administrators to learn the program and plan implementation for your site. 

The Course consists of six modules that are administered asynchronously to allow flexibility in scheduling. The model also provides cross-district collaboration to build an on-going community of practice.


Learning-Based Grading  is a philosophical approach where grades reflect demonstrated learning proficiency of course content and have a positive effect on student learning. This six-module course and curriculum for educators is designed to examine and develop the use of this approach. During this course, participants will learn a variety of learning-based grading components including how to break course content into assessable learning targets, what types of options exist to allow students to demonstrate learning, and how productive struggle and the opportunity for revision of student work supports learning and reduces inequity. The program is a significant starting point for instructors on the journey towards learning-based grading and will equip them with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to redesign their course for mastery.

Professional Learning Objectives

Participants will be able to:

  • Evaluate the key elements of mastery grading systems and their advantages over traditional grading systems.
  • Create or revise assessable learning targets for mastery in your course.
  • Develop a mastery grading plan for your course.
  • Use mastery grading to promote learning and growth with students and other stakeholders.
Target Outcome
Participant Activity
Module 01
Mastery Grading, an Introduction
2, 3
Overview of the content and scope of the course
2 discussions
  • Golden Lines
  • Big Concepts
Module 02
Writing Clear, Assessable Learning Targets
3, 4, 5
Measurable learning targets for mastery
Assignment submission
  • Learning Targets
  • Assignment Feedback
Module 03
Designing Your Grading Architecture
2, 3, 4
Articulating grade structures
2 discussions
  • Golden Lines
  • Rubrics
Module 04
Designing Mastery Assignments/Assessments
4, 5
Aligning measurements of learning
2 discussions
  • Grading for Mastery Q&A
  • Aligning Assignments
Module 05
Giving Feedback
1, 2
Practices and structures of feedback
2 discussions
  • Practicing giving learning feedback
  • When to give feedback
Module 06
The Finishing Touches
1, 2, 4, 6
Implementation and design planning
  • Communicating your grading system
  • Planning your implementation
*California Standards for the Teaching Profession (CSTP)​. See below for details.

California Standards for the Teaching Profession (CSTP)

  1. Engaging and Supporting All Students in Learning
  2. Creating and Maintaining Effective Environments for Student Learning
  3. Understanding and Organizing Subject Matter for Student Learning
  4. Planning Instruction and Designing Learning Experiences for All Students
  5. Assessing Students for Learning
  6. Developing as a Professional Educator

Module Descriptions

In this module, participants will review the key literature around the philosophy of Learning-Based Grading (Mastery Grading) and then reflect upon those ideas as they relate to their own course. By using collective discussions, participants should be able to begin to ask the deep questions about what learning is and looks like for their course; as well as, focusing on the larger components of a single course they teach.

Professional Learning Objectives: Participants will be able to

  • Define the core principles of what Learning-Based Grading means.
  • Describe why traditional grading is iniquitous or needs to be changed.
  • Evaluate the fundamental building blocks of my course to redesign it.

In this module, participants will review their learning objectives, or targets, for the purposes of mastery in their course. Doing this will require the review of some key ideas around measuring and appropriately pairing of language to teacher and student. Participants will have the opportunity to also gain expert feedback on some of their revised learning targets to fit the “goldilocks” zone of a target.

Professional Learning Objectives: Participants will be able to

  • Identify appropriately written, assessable, and student facing learning objectives.
  • Revise a learning objective to be appropriately written, assessable, and student facing.

In this module, participants will examine how to incorporate the philosophy of mastery grading, into the components of their course and grading system. By reviewing and reflecting on readings and guided discussions, participants will develop their first plans and choices for making the big step into the mastery grading world.

Professional Learning Objectives: Participants will be able to

  • Use a rubric to evaluate for learning level of a student.
  • Convert the mastery of learning standards into a final grade.
  • Evaluate when and how to quantify the mastery of learning standards.
  • Evaluate the appropriate level of complexity to a mastery grading architecture.

In this module, participants will begin the process of aligning their targets to their assessments and assignments. By reviewing the ideas of evaluation, measurable learning, and reassessment, participants will have an opportunity to follow a guided discussion around practice for their classrooms.

Professional Learning Objectives: Participants will be able to:

  • Evaluate appropriate assessments/assignments that demonstrate mastery of learning standards.
  • Design or redesign assessments/assignments that align and measure mastery of learning standards.

In this module, participants will grapple with the elusive practice of giving learning-based feedback. Through guided discussion and facilitated examples, participants will try giving and sharing feedback to target around learning and reassessment for their classes.

Professional Learning Objectives: Participants will be able to:

  • Give learning-based feedback on assignments/assessments.
  • Show students how to use feedback in their learning.
  • Build feedback/reassessment time into my courses.

In this final module, participants will set up their plans for redesign. By reviewing what they’ve learned and asking some of the next best goal setting questions, participants will establish their game-plan to review and finish redesigning their course for mastery grading. Focusing on an inventory of what they have and what their goals are, participants will make their own or shared plans as needed in this module.

Professional Learning Objectives: Participants will be able to

  • Communicate the grading practices of my course with all students and stakeholders.
  • Evaluate a student’s progress in learning content from the mastery of learning standards.
  • Communicate a student’s progress in learning content from the mastery of learning standards.

Frequently Asked Questions

The course content is all located in the Learning Management System, Canvas. After you register and pay for the course you will have a College Bridge Canvas course created for you and be enrolled in your cohort of the course. The enrollment information for Canvas and access to the course will be provided two business days prior to the course’s start date.

For any technical questions or assistance with Canvas and your account, please contact

At your own pace. The content is laid out in a sequence from welcome, to modules 01-06, and finally the implementation and next steps. You may wish to go through each module in order as it appears, although you could start at the parts you will have to “submit” and work backwards. The information, videos, and resources provided are all for you to gain the strongest footing to complete the tasks of the course and better develop your mastery grading system in your class. We do request that the “Welcome Module” be completed before any other module, as this helps us get to know you and outline more of the process.

That depends, we estimate roughly 5 hours of time to be spent per module, for a total of 30 hours for the course. This is, however, an estimate of work. Each reading can take you as much or little time as you need. Each activity can also take as much or as little time as you need. The only time component we have fixed are the length of our videos, but you could watch them multiple times or at double speed, again as much or little as you need.

You will get a solid beginning to your journey on making mastery graded courses. Also, lots of feedback and a chance to building community with like-minded folks! Also, a signed certificate of completion from the course if you complete 85% of all the submissions with a rating of complete.

Depending on the module, you maybe submitting reflections on philosophy or content, discussions with peers, or learning targets and course structures for expert feedback. You can see more about the assignments within the course itself, but also in our Module Overview.

As an additional service in this course, we want to make sure you have ongoing support and success with your Mastery Grading journey and implementation. The implementation support comes in the form of customized assignments, reminders, office hours, or meetings based on your shared experiences and feedback during the active content modules.

Each cohort should have a registration drop-down choice in our forms that allows you to register for the cohort. If the option is missing, check the start dates to make sure that date hasn’t passed. Cohorts that have started cannot be registered for. You may register up until the start date of any cohort, as long as you are paying using a direct online payment or registration, purchase orders/invoices require more time to process on our end and will become unavailable 3 or 4 business days before the start date.

Any online payment process should generate an invoice receipt which should send you are welcome information. If for some reason you aren’t receiving any communications from us, please send an email to and we’ll respond to you within 1-2 business days.


College Bridge is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity (EIN #: 45-1215081) that has earned GuideStar’s Platinum Seal of Transparency.

If you have any questions about this course, please contact Owynn Lancaster, Chief Academic Officer at

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