Making Mastery Accessible

The Mastery Learning Resource Bank is organized around a practitioners glossary of terms that inclueds working definitions and designers' tips, accompanies by a set of curated resources. Here, you can explore the best thinking in the field on topics such as Flexibly-Paced Learning, Personalization, and Learning Progressions, while also discovering what Data Backpacks are, and how to distinguish them from Learner Profiles.

The Resource Bank was developed in partnership with Springpoint, and supported by Carnegie Corporation of New York. This section of the Design Lab is very active. We are continually updating our curated resources and refining our working definitions.

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Learning Expectations

General statements that describe the combination of skills, knowledge, characteristics, aptitudes, and traits which contribute to high performance. A competency is something one can do often, in many situations and with strong results. The key to competencies is that they require students to have mastered standards at a deep enough level that they can apply their learning to challenging performance tasks.

Learning Expectations

A set of Learning Goals that outline what students will master with regards to skills and content. These are specific and concrete, but complex enough they they will require a number of Learning Targets to master. Learning progressions detail the Learning Objectives and Learning Targets that students must master over time.

Learning Opportunities - Extended

This term refers to the belief that legitimate (i.e. "credit-bearing") and effective learning can and should occur at any time and in any place. Extended learning opportunities are those that require that educators, families and students will seek learning opportunities beyond the schoolhouse walls. These can include enrollment in post-secondary classes and programs, online opportunities, real-world experiences such as internships, and/or areas of study defined and pursued by learners. Also referred to Anywhere-Anytime Learning.

Learning Progressions

A sequence of skill- and content-oriented building blocks that students master as part of the progression towards mastery of a larger Learning Goal or Objective. Students move through a progression over time (sometimes within a course or module, sometimes across years, courses or modules.

Mastery Learning

This approach to education is grounded in 5 key design principles: 1. Students advance upon achieving a pre-determined level of mastery. 2. Explicit and measurable competencies empower students. 3. Assessment is meaningful, and a positive learning experience for students. 4. Students receive timely, rapid, differentiated support. 5. Learning outcomes emphasize the creation and application of knowledge and skills. Mastery Learning is a term often used interchangeably with Competency-Based Education and Proficiency-Based Education.


A set of content and/or skills that is organized around a set of Learning Objectives aligned to Competencies. Modules are often designed as student-facing (hosted on a learning management system) allowing students to engage directly with the material. Modules differ from traditional curricular units in that they stand alone as a complete learning experience (Modules can be organized around units).