Mastery Collaborative News: Vol. 1 Issue 7
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Newsletter: Vol. 1 Issue 7  |  6.29.15

Introducing Mastery Collaborative
Year 1 as an official program!

Mastery-based teaching and learning took a great leap forward this month! Building on its promising beginning as an interest-driven working group, the Mastery Collaborative (MC) is now a funded program of the DOE's Office of Postsecondary Readiness for the 2015-16 school year.

The MC is for NYC public middle and high schools who are using or piloting mastery/competency-based teaching and learning.  We are part of Digital Ready, from NYC Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Readiness, and funded by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.

Co-Director Joy Nolan welcoming Mastery Collaborative Living Lab schools

At our kickoff event June 18, we articulated a shared set of goals for the work we will undertake as a community:

  • equity: level the playing field
  • student agency: ownership, self-efficacy, growth mindset
  • help schools develop strong practice
  • measure progress/growth/impact
  • create/document/share: resources, models, practices, ideas
  • articulate a shared vision about mastery as an element of culturally relevant, student-centered learning
  • policy clarity and advocacy
  • critical friendships between MC schools

MC Cohort 1

We are delighted to announce our 8 Living Lab schools and some of our Active Member schools for Year 1 of the program!

MC Living Lab 2015-2016

Living Lab schools are piloting or implementing a schoolwide mastery system. These schools will take on an active, open-door role that includes visits and sharing of ideas, practices, processes,  models,and resources.

Bronx Leadership Academy 2 HS (BLA2)

730A Concourse Village W, Bronx, NY 10451

Carroll Gardens School for Innovation (CGSI)

317 Hoyt St, Brooklyn, NY 11231

Frank McCourt HS

145 W 84th St, New York, NY 10024

Harvest Collegiate HS

34 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10011

NYC iSchool

131 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10013

Knowledge and Power Preparatory Academy Int'l HS (KAPPA)

500 East Fordham Road, Bronx, NY 10458

The Young Women’s Leadership School-Astoria


5 Newtown Ave, Astoria, NY 11102

Urban Assembly Maker Academy

4th Floor, 411 Pearl St, New York, NY 10038


MC Active Member Schools 2015-16
Active Member schools are piloting or implementing a mastery system schoolwide or in at least one grade or department. Like the Living Lab, Active Member schools will work on goals and share resources/ideas across the community. We expect membership to grow over the fall--here are current MC Active Members.

Academy for Software Engineering,  Manhattan Brooklyn International HS,  Brooklyn
Bronx Academy for Software Engineering, Bronx

Bronx Arena HS,  Bronx
Bronx International HS, Bronx
Bronx Compass HS, Bronx
East Bronx Academy for the Future,  Bronx
EPIC HS South,  Queens
EPIC HS North,  Queens
Flushing International HS,  Queens
Global Technology Prep MS,  Manhattan
Inwood Early College for Health and Information Technologies, Manhattan
Nelson Mandela School for Social Justice,  Brooklyn
North Queens Community HS,  Queens
NYC Lab HS for Collaborative Studies,  Manhattan NYC Lab MS for Collaborative Studies,  Manhattan
Manhattan International HS,  Manhattan
Queens School of Inquiry,  Queens
Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction, Manhattan
The Young Women's Leadership School of the Bronx,  Bronx

While our application season for the spring is complete, we encourage others to apply for MC Active Membership on a rolling basis. Please reach out to us at for an application.

The MC also welcomes individual practitioners from middle and high schools. There is no formal application process; please reach out to us at  

Mastery Collaborative Leaders Institute Recap

On June 18th, over 75 participants from 28 schools participated in the first ever Mastery Collaborative Leaders Institute. The first half of the day convened the leadership and lead teachers from our 8 Living Lab schools. Members started the morning by sharing mastery-based ‘artifacts (ie: grading policies, unit maps, and outcomes/competency lists). After a ‘gallery-walk’ of resources, members gave feedback about connections and strengths they saw in each other's’ work.  

We spent the rest of the morning diving into a goal-tuning workshop, and an activity designed to create engaging school profile pages for the MC’s forthcoming website.

Living Lab Gallery Walk! Sharing resources, questions, connections, strengths . . .

As Active Member schools began to roll in at lunch time, members added to our list of shared common goals on the wall.

Next up, Jacquii and AJ from NYC DOE’s PROSE initiative attended to offer a quick walk-through of a Mastery-based Learning Policy FAQdocument draft’. Our connections with PROSE and the DOE Office of Academic Policy are important facets of the program. (Still have questions about PROSE, policy, and mastery? Email us:, and/or the PROSE team: You can also go to the PROSE wiki.)

The afternoon’s main session was a Mastery Unconference in which participants asked and responded to questions about:

  • Systems (top level,  school-wide)

  • Curriculum (school-wide/departmental)

  • Facilitation (individual classroom practice)

  • Communication

The Living Lab schools said farewell after a productive (and, okay, long) day, and then the Active Member schools got down to their own goal-tuning workshop.

All in all, it was a day of rich exchange, and a great kickoff of our collaborative. Big thanks to all participating schools and educators--and to Roie Parchi and John Clemente, our friends from central DOE who helped us to run the event.

A few participant comments:

  • “The discussions were energized and interesting. I am excited to meet like-minded individuals who “geek out” over the same areas and are grappling with similar issues.”
  • “I was able to share ideas and learn from others--we have often felt alone in this work.”
  • “We got valuable first-hand information about how schools solved/are solving challenges with mastery.”
  • “It allowed more experienced schools to share and let us know that we should be thoughtful and intentional--and that both take time.”
  • “I got to have my own work and ideas validated AND got to steal from others. It is so important for us to be able to share resources and best practices with colleagues. We will get stronger faster because you've created this ongoing forum for adult learning.”

You can access the agenda here, and check out event photos here.

May Online Session Recap

In our May online session, Sloan Award-winning math teacher Megan Berdugo of Brooklyn International HS presented about Mastery, Math, and Layered Curriculum.

Megan gave an overview of Outcomes Grading at Brooklyn International. She gave her perspective on some of the main challenges and promises of using a mastery-based approach to math.

Megan explained that uses Layered Curriculum because it allows students to personalize and self-pace as they gain mastery of skills and content. It was an action-packed presentation. See the session slide deck for

  • a culturally responsive rubric designed for use with ELLs

  • outcomes Megan is using (for next year, it will be the Eight Mathematical Practices from the CCLS).

  • a glimpse of Megan’s layered curriculum for algebra.

April Online Session Recap

Our April online session featured Design Thinking: Developing a Mastery System for a Year One School with Madelaine Hackett from UA Maker Academy--a school with a strong mastery focus and many exceptional practitioners such as physic teacher Elizabeth Dowdell.

Maddie shared UA Maker's grade-tracking system; and this first-year school’s cycle of defining, designing, and developing. She shared many amazing custom-created open-source tools and resources. You might want to steal and tweak some for your school (a Creative Commons License makes it totally legit to steal from the best!) An example: a series of short videos that explain the mastery system to students and families.

Upcoming Events

Working Groups

When: July-August 2015

What: Working groups for MC members

Topic: Teacher- and administrator-led curation of departmental curriculum, school-wide structures, and other transferable resources for the community and beyond.

If you signed up at the MC Leaders Institute June 18, we will be in touch. Others in the MC: Sign up if you are interested in working with innovative colleagues on mastery-related digital resources this summer.


Save these Dates!

Upcoming in-person and online meetings for the Mastery Collaborative


2015-2016 Mastery Collaborative Quarterly Dates
These are in-person sharing sessions
for the entire MC community--please plan to attend.

  • Wednesday  October 21, 2015
  • Wednesday January 20, 2016
  • Wednesday May 18, 2016

2015-2016 Online Session Dates:
These are opt-in, 
after-school sessions about high-interest topics.
We hope you will join us for some or all!

  • Wednesday September 30, 2015
  • Tuesday November 24, 2015
  • Wednesday December 16, 2015
  • Wednesday February 24, 2016
  • Wednesday March 23, 2016
  • Wednesday April 20, 2016



Future Events

Previous Events

June Leaders Institute Agenda

June Leaders Institute photos

February Digital Tools for Mastery Event Slide Deck

February Digital Tools for Mastery 'Dream Platform' List

February Digital Tools for Mastery event photos


Online Session Links

May Online Session Recorded Presentation (Brooklyn International HS)

May Online Session Slide Deck (Brooklyn International HS)

April Online Session Recorded Presentation (UA Maker)

March Online Session Recorded Presentation (Bronx International HS)

March Online Session Slide Deck (Bronx International HS)

January Online Session Recorded Presentation (TYWLS-Astoria)

January Online Session Slide Deck (TYWLS-Astoria)

December Online Session Recorded Presentation (Carroll Gardens School for Innovation)

December Online Session Slide Deck (Carroll Gardens School for Innovation)

November Online Session Presentation 

Mastery Collaborative Inquiries

Mastery Collaborative Google Folder

Mastery Collaborative Folder

Examples of Competencies/Outcomes

Progress Report Examples

Other Mastery Resources

Competency Works
An online resource blog dedicated to providing information and knowledge about competency education in the K-12 education system

Mastery-Based Learning Intro Video Featuring FDA VII

The Art and Science of Designing Competencies Issue Brief
Chris Sturgis, Competency Works

The Shift from Cohorts to Competency
Digital Learning Now paper, including background, FAQs, and 10 capabilities of a competency-aligned system

Chris Sturgis, Competency Works (Includes links to case studies of 5 NYC Mastery Collaborative Schools)
Three Big Takeways from NYC
Chris Sturgis, Competency Works
About the Mastery Collaborative

The Mastery Collaborative is a new program for NYC public middle and high schools who are using, piloting, and/or exploring mastery/competency-based approaches to assessment, teaching, and learning.  We are part of Digital Ready, from NYC Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Readiness. We are funded by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.

Jeremy Kraushar/
Joy Nolan
Mastery Collaborative

131 Livingston Street
RM 303

Brooklyn, NY 11201
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