Alignment of outcomes with Common Core Learning Standards, state standards, and other key academic/workplace learning goals

We suggest that schools create outcomes that are aligned to and/or in support of standards. An example of an outcome that supports success with Common Core Standards, for example, might be “I can communicate effectively in multiple formats (speaking/listening, writing, technology).” Other outcomes in support of CCLS could concern project planning, critical thinking, goal setting—the cross-cutting general skills that are the habits and practices of successful people in all walks of life, including academics. Ideally key high-leverage cross-cutting skills are carefully chosen, criteria for success are articulated,  and adults across a school share responsibility for teaching into these skills, giving students opportunities to learn, develop , and demonstrate evidence of these skills in multiple ways across time.

Experienced mastery practitioners often design learning targets that focus on transferable skills, rather than on content knowledge. Students in these settings of course do learn content and gain knowledge, doing so in the context of and process of developing lasting relevant skills they can bring with them into post-secondary life. Why? In the era of the internet, information comes cheap. Knowing what to do with it, how to analyze and synthesize information, is more important than ever.  “The content lives in the evidence” of mastery, says lead teacher Christy Kingham of The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria, a Mastery Collaborative Living Lab School.

Research indicates that students do not retain most of the “facts” they learn in school. Research also tells us that facts stick better when students learn them in a context of actively working to  build and use key skills they need to succeed in college and careers. In order to understand how  mature mastery systems balance content knowledge and skill development, reviewing student learning outcomes is useful. Please see the sections on departmental and schoolwide outcomes for examples.