Mastery Collaborative News: Vol. 3, Issue 2
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Newsletter: Vol. 3 Issue 2  |  10.26.16

Fall Focus: A Racial Justice Lens on Mastery Shifts

Thanks to all who attended our Fall Quarterly last week. It was wonderful to see everyone and meet new members. The day was meaningful largely because of our conversations connecting mastery work to racial justice, led by Laura and Megan from Border Crossers.

We voted with our feet to show our personal reactions to statements such as "My racial identity is important to me." We explored connections between mastery shifts and culturally responsive education (CRE), and we fine-tuned our goals for increasing CRE and equity in our schools.

We think mastery is inherenty more equitable and has the power to increase equity because of aspects like this:

  • Transparency  The path to success is clear and learning outcomes are relevant to students' lives and interests. Shared criteria reduce opportunity for implicit bias
  • Facilitation shifts  Refocus the roles of students and teachers to include flexible pacing, inquiry-based, collaborative approach to learning. Student drive their own learning, and teachers coach them
  • Positive learning identity  Growth mindset and active learning build agency and affirm students’ identities as learners (academics, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc.)

The conversation continues this fall and winter with "Talking about Race and Mastery" trainings co-facilitated by the MC team and Border Crossers. We ask everyone on your school's mastery team to join us for one of these trainings. There are 7 sessions, including a special session for school leaders. Dates and registration link are below.

Educators will gain:

  • Analytical perspective on how racism manifests in K-12 educational settings

  • Enhanced understanding of how racism affects children

  • Practice with addressing issues of race and racism in the classroom

  • Mastery-based strategies to support an equitable school-wide culture of respect, responsiveness, and rigor.

For schools that have a deep interest in creating equitable learning cultures, the MC also offers a working group this year on CRE/Equity and Mastery. Schools will consider how mastery and CRE amplify each other, and with support from the MC team and Border Crossers, the group will collect models, examples, and resources for the full MC community. Let us know if you're interested!
               —Jeremy, Joy, Charlie, & Patrick of the MC HQ,
                   collectively reachable at:
Did you miss the Fall Quarterly? Please take our Fall 2016-17 Practitioner Survey. We request 5 responses from each school, by Wednesday November 9. Thanks. And please mark your calendar so you never ever miss a Quarterly again—dates below. We need you! We aim for 100% attendance. Stronger together. :-)

Read This. Watch That.

The MC website now has a monthly blog. See our first post, featuring Living Lab School Flushing International High School.

 What is mastery-based learning and why is it better? Sal Khan is articulate on this topic in a recent Ted Talk on mastery. (They asked him, not us?) On shortcomings of traditional education: "Say I get 75 on a test . . . we've now identified gaps in my learning—and the whole class then moves on to the next subject. Probably a more advanced subject that's going to build on those gaps." Well worth a few minutes.

Are you newly shifting to mastery as a school, or are you an educator who is new to implementing mastery? Do not miss this useful series from Chris Sturgis: 
Introducing Implementing Competency Education in K–12 Systems: Insights from Local Leaders. 

For all of Chris's writing about NYC schools over the past two years, click here for a goldmine of amazing analysis of MC schools' practices.

And forthcoming any day from Kappan Magazine is a piece on the Mastery Collaborative and mastery in NYC. We hope to share it with you in November!


Upcoming Events

Talking about Race and Mastery: co-facilitated by the MC team and Border Crossers. Please attend one with the rest of your mastery team at your school. Space is limited so grab your best date now! Link below, and also through your school's MC Launchpad. Please use your MC funding for per diem/per session to maximize attendance. See you there.

Training 1: Tues, 11/15 1-5 pm (locations tbd)
Training 2: Wed, 11/16 1-5 pm
Training 3: Wed, 12/14 1-5 pm
Training 4: Mon, 12/19 1-5 pm
Training 5: Wed, 1/18 1-5 pm * * Administrators' session * *
Training 6: Tues, 1/24 1-5 pm
Training 7: Thurs, 2/16 1-5 pm

30 people max per session.  RSVP ASAP to ensure your top choice.



  Design Challenge in mid-December. 6-10 MC schools will be invited to send a team of  teacher and 3-4 students to compete in  a design challenge about how to make school more equitable. Details still coming together. Stay tuned—and let us know if you are interested.

Please save MC Quarterly dates for the year, for a team of 3-6 from your school, including school leadership and teachers. These are our only full-community gatherings—our chance to talk shop, cross-pollinate, learn from each other, and share out. We aim for 100% participation from MC schools. Practicing schools learn best from each other.

MC Updates

Ahead this year:

  • Working group on CRE/CBE with Border Crossers

  • Talking about Race and Mastery with MC community and Border Crossers

  • Mastery Incubator

  • Online sessions tailored to your goals for the year

  • Spring visits to Living Lab schools

New email addresses and mailing address
Mastery Collaborative, NYC Dept of Education
175 Varick Street, 4th Fl, New York, NY 10013

(Our old addresses, ending in, will forward to the addresses here.)

Do you know a mastery-based school that is not yet in the MC? Please let us know. We are accepting a few more schools via rolling admissions, and are especially interested in schools with active schoolwide mastery systems. 

About us

The Mastery Collaborative is a community for NYC public middle and high schools that are using mastery/competency-based shifts. We are a program of the Model Redesign team in NYC DOE’s Office of Postsecondary Readiness. 

Mastery Collaborative
NYC Department of Education
175 Varick Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10013 
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Mastery Collaborative, NYC DOE · 52 Chambers Street, Room 205 · New York, New York 10007 · USA

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