Mastery Based Grading Policy

Grades at UA Maker provide precise, actionable feedback about students’ ability to master the design thinking process, content knowledge and the skills articulated in the Common Core Standards.

Since the rapidly changing workplace calls for our future Makers to apply what they know and are able to do in novel situations and with independence, students at UA Maker have demonstrated mastery when they show their understanding on their own, across time and situations. At UA Maker, when you demonstrate your understanding once, you are proficient. When you show your understanding repeatedly, you demonstrate mastery.

Thus, at UA Maker, Mastery means being able to demonstrate repeated proficiency of a particular process, content or skill as measured by different types of assessments that ask students to apply what they know in different ways. Students will have the opportunity to learn content and skills in subject area challenge classes, whole school design challenges, and through asynchronous work that they complete at their own pace, allowing for acceleration or recuperation, depending on the student’s need.

We assess our students on the following criteria:                        

Design Thinking

Central to the work we do at UA Maker is Design Thinking – students’ ability to use the design process to create and execute on their ideas, passions, and creativity. In order to assess students on design thinking we use evidence from:

  • Student’s core challenges in every subject area, assessed on the UA Maker Design Thinking Rubric

Content Knowledge

For every challenge there is discrete content knowledge that we expect students to apply to design projects. In order to assess student on content knowledge we use evidence from:

  • Tests and quizzes

  • Online learning modules/playlists

  • Evidence from classwork, homework and core challenges

    • You can access the list of content standards here

Common Core Standards

The Common Core Standards represent the literacy and math critical thinking skills that students use regularly to learn and question the world around them. These include close reading, discussion, creating oral and written arguments, reasoning abstractly and quantitatively, and many more.

In order to assess students on common core standards we use:

  • Evidence from classwork, homework and core challenges

We also give students regular feedback on some non cognitive skills – academic and personal behaviors.

Academic and Personal Behaviors

In additional to all that our students know and are able to do, we also offer our students feedback on the habits and behaviors that help students to succeed in school and beyond. These include things like persistence, organization, and self-regulation.

  • Students receive feedback and areas to work on and improve based on their behaviors throughout their classes.

  • Students work on their academic and personal areas of focus throughout the school day and beyond, as they practice mastering their design thinking, content and common core knowledge


A competency is a set or grouping of related skills, knowledge, concepts, and dispositions that that involve the application and creation of knowledge and that encompass both subject-specific and cross-disciplinary constructs. Competencies can be grouped into large strands (“algebra”) or big ideas (“21st century skills”).

Proficiency” represents a high standard of performance that serves as a “cut point” or score on a given assessment, whether as a number/percent correct or as a specific level on a rubric. A proficiency score may be exceeded by an “advanced” score.

Mastery” implies that proficiency has been demonstrated multiple times and in multiple ways or contexts.

Asynchronous”means that students are not working at the same time as others.

Personalization” means that students can work at their own pace and may not be working on the same work as others.

A rubric is a scoring guide that describes levels of performance along a continuum (“beginner” “advanced beginner” “emerging proficient” “proficient” “advanced proficient”) and may be supplemented by a specific set of indicators for each level and competency being assessed that are in some cases specific to the performance task.