Mastery and Standards-Based Grading
Grading at MESA is different from what you might see at most high schools. That is because we use a Standards-Based Grading system. Students’ grades are not an overall average of several different weighted categories–tests, quizzes, homework, etc. Rather, students are taught to master individual standards, and their overall grade is based on the percentage of grades that they master. This allows MESA teachers and students to hone in on areas of weakness, and then work to improve specific skills during office hours. Additionally, after additional study or extra help, students can re-assess in an area where they may not have achieved mastery. If a student is now able to master that standard, the student’s newest grade–the higher one–replaces the original failing grade. In other words, it doesn’t matter where you start, it matters where you finish!
Standards-Based Grading only takes into account academic performance–the grade does not include homework, participation, behavior, or other “soft” skills that don’t directly demonstrate mastery. However, MESA believes that these habits are crucial for success in college. Therefore, each MESA student also receives a weekly grade for effort in each class, which we call an “E-Score.” Students earn privileges–trips, movie nights, prizes, and the right to participate in clubs and sports–based on consistently high E-Scores.