How Spartanburg 2 Meets Students Where They Are 

with Assessment for Learning

Spartanburg 2 has created a positive assessment culture with solutions in Mastery by Instructure. Read on to learn how they've used Mastery Connect and Mastery Item Bank to elevate PLCs, bring cohesion to formative assessments, and support students.

Spartanburg 2 School District





The right assessment approach sets students up for success. Learn how educators and administrators at Spartanburg 2 in South Carolina created a positive, assessment-for-learning culture with solutions from Mastery by Instructure

Key Insights

Since implementing Mastery Connect as part of a system-wide PLC process, Spartanburg 2’s schools have risen to the top of the state in core subjects like Reading and Math.

Students take ownership of their learning with regular check-ins using Mastery Connect data.

With the Mastery Item Bank, Spartanburg 2 has eased the content lift for educators with access to a diverse, robust range of differentiated questions.

Mastery Connect and Mastery Item Bank allow teachers to use data to collaborate on creating personalized instruction and common assessments that are robust and prepare students for success

Creating A Collaborative Community

“We are growing rapidly,” Angela Hinton, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction at Spartanburg 2, said. “We grew over 700 students in the past year…And our vision is to be the premier school district in which to live and learn...”

Part of accomplishing this vision includes assessments that set students up for success and serve as a seamless part of their learning journeys. Educators across Spartanburg 2 needed to connect students with the right feedback at the right time. And Mastery by Instructure solutions - paired with the right systems and processes in districtwide MTSS - have allowed them to do just that.

One of the vital first steps was creating a collaborative atmosphere between educators in their professional learning communities.

“We [implemented] professional learning communities with fidelity across every school in the district. We named them Teaching and Learning Teams (TLTs). In those teams, we must have clarity where teachers can constantly break the standard down into learning progressions. They're creating success criteria…and common formative assessments," Hinton said.

The Right Tools For The Right Teams

"We seek to drive Tier 1 instruction with those common formative assessments [in Mastery Item Bank], and differentiated instruction to accelerate learning coupled with vetted digital tools [like Mastery Connect] that can further personalize learning," Hinton said.

Mastery Connect, and Mastery Item Bank are critical pillars in Spartanburg 2’s strategy for success. They act as “vetted, digital tools” for teachers to provide “personalized, differentiated learning” in collaborative TLTs.

Fast, Formative Feedback

The impact of Mastery Connect and the Mastery Item Bank is also felt in classrooms across the district. They’re crucial for delivering the feedback students need to understand where they are in their learning journey.

“...My favorite thing about Mastery Connect is the instant feedback. I have 50 minutes a day [with each class], which is not a long time. So my students, as soon as they get something wrong, want to know why. It's nice to connect with them,” middle school teacher, Jessica Coyle said. “They don't have to wait until the next day for me to grade 110 papers…I like the questions in [Mastery Item Bank] because they're rigorous. They're a little different from other platforms that are just the basic skills. It works well.”

“I like [using the Mastery Item Bank] for isolating skills. And we also use it a lot for exit tickets,” elementary teacher, DeeDee Cantrell, said.



Isolating essential skills allows educators to differentiate and personalize support for students at all levels. Within Mastery Connect, the colors green, yellow, and red represent mastery, approaching mastery, and remediation, respectively. This visualization, paired with a data-driven approach to intervention, allows teachers to differentiate and personalize instruction for students.

“We try to meet the students’ needs. We may have three different levels of morning work, and it's easy to access because of the Item Bank,” Brittany Acquisto, Math Coach at Chesnee Elementary, said.

Acquisto described how she engages students right when they need to hear feedback.

“As soon as they finish, they'll come to me, and we will go over the questions missed to see if it's a careless mistake or something they didn't understand, and they can see the color dots to know if they didn't understand the wording, or if they struggled with the concept."

The traditional approach to assessment can be anxiety-inducing. Spartanburg 2, however, has built a positive assessment culture where students know where they are on their learning journey through differentiated instruction, personalized support, and formative assessment.

Cultivating Student Ownership

Having regular check-ins with students builds rapport and keeps them informed of where they are on their learning journey.

“If you let a student in on their progress, you don't have to wait a week to grade a paper because that kid is aware. Oh, this is where I am. But this is where I should be. Can I retake this test? They really take ownership in their learning,” Cantrell said. ”We all do. We have conferences about their scores from SC Ready from last year. This is what you scored, but this is a daily kind of ownership they can [take]. They see where they are…So it really is valuable.”

Growth Even In Uncertainty

Since partnering with Mastery by Instructure, Spartanburg 2 has seen growth - even in uncertain times.

“The results we have seen from building this assessment system with the right people, processes, and purpose, and then having the right programs are staggering. We have an elementary school with over 70% poverty. It’s one of 27 schools this year recognized as an ESEA Nationally Distinguished School. When the State Department called us, they said, what in the world are you doing there? Because while others regressed over COVID, your schools are growing kids’ skills, ” Hinton said.

Better Together With Canvas Lms

In classrooms across the district, Canvas LMS is a key connector in keeping students organized and in-the-know about where they are on their learning journey.

“Part of what makes Canvas LMS so usable is being able to automatically grade questions or quizzes and sync to [our SIS]...We’ve used modules in eighth-grade math to make a daily schedule so that they see every day of the week on their homepage. They’ve got all their links in one spot.” Kevin Hand, 8th Grade Teacher

According to Jessica Coyle, a 7th-grade math teacher, these modules help keep students organized the whole year.

“In math, it’s really important to review concepts throughout the year and not just forget once you move on…Students can always go back there to update their notes. [Or] they can go back to the very first unit we started in August. Canvas LMS is very organized,“ Coyle said.

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