A Tennessean Transformation with Mastery by Instructure

How Hamilton County Schools Rose from Level 1 to
Level 5 in 3 Years

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“When I think of Hamilton County,...[the] first thing that comes to mind is the amazing public schools… because we've accomplished a lot of great things over the last few years,” said Greg Bagby, Coordinator of Instructional Technology at Hamilton County Schools.

This transformation didn’t happen by chance. It was the culmination of collaboration and strategic technology implementation. Read on to learn how they rose from level 1 to level 5 in 3 years with Mastery Connect

The Challenge

Previously, assessments varied from classroom to classroom at Hamilton County Schools.

“We saw a lot of variability across the district [surrounding] how standards were being taught, which standards were being taught, [and] how they were being assessed. And for us…one of the most important pieces was how we assess our standards,” said Rachel Turner, Secondary Social Studies Content Lead.

Turner also mentioned that teachers were, “...just kind of guessing where our students’ needs were.” Anthony Goad, High School Science Content Lead at Hamilton County, continued, ”...before Mastery Connect, every teacher was on their own to develop their…assessments as they saw fit.“ To improve student outcomes and establish consistency, change was needed.

Key Insights

Mastery Connect brings consistency and uniformity to assessments districtwide.

Data from Mastery Connect gives educators the information they need to provide the right students with the right support at the right time.

Canvas LMS and Mastery Connect work together seamlessly. Students and teachers can access assessments in their familiar digital learning environment.

Mastery View Predictive Assessments put accurate student mastery data into the hands of educators, allowing them to better predict how prepared students will be for end-of-level state tests.

When change comes, fear follows. As was the case when Hamilton County rolled out Mastery Connect, the Mastery View Predictive Assessments as their benchmarking solution, and the Mastery Item Bank for formative use in between benchmarks.

“When we first rolled out [Mastery View Predictive Assessments], teachers were a little hesitant, ‘I'm not sure if my kids are ready for this, have I taught this well enough? Or, have I taught this yet?"...As time has progressed and they see the data, they see the benefits of using the data to inform their instruction….” Goad said.

Fully Prepared With Mastery View Predictive Assessments

“We use benchmark data [from the Mastery View Predictive Assessments] to help understand where the kids are, what's been mastered, and what the students know and are able to do,” Bagby said.

Using benchmark data to inform instruction is just one piece of the puzzle. Mastery View Predictive Assessments also allow educators to draw correlations between individual student performance on high-quality benchmarks and state tests (such as TCAP in Tennessee).

“[Mastery View Predictive Assessments] help us see how [students] are doing to be on track  toward the state testing… we're able to look standard by standard, and see which kids are getting it, which kids aren't, which standards we need to work on with the whole group, which kids we need to pull to work on specific standards…,” Cindy Gaston, Instructional Coach at the  Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts, said.

Consistent benchmark assessments throughout the year also give teachers a more thorough understanding of the student learning journey throughout the school year.

“Seeing the growth from one benchmark to the next has been a great way to encourage students all year,” Carly Pearson, Teacher at Hamilton County Schools.

Teaching, Shifting, & Changing With Mastery Connect & Item Bank

Identifying which students need support is the first step in creating an assessment culture that supports student learning. Painting a more transparent, accessible data picture resulted in a quick improvement on state assessments.

“We use our assessments to figure out what we need to teach, what we need to change, and what we need to shift. And it seems to be working for us [because] we became the fastest improving district in Tennessee,” Bagby said.

Mastery Connect and the Mastery assessment content helped them accomplish this impressive improvement: “...What Mastery Connect has let us do is provide [a] common assessment for all the teachers in the content being tested so that we could get a picture of what all students are doing across schools, across grade [levels], across demographics,” Goad said.

“…[Mastery Connect]’s trackers have a beautiful visual that shows us which standards are strong, which need work, and which kids need help on each. The quality of the Mastery View Predictive Assessments makes a big difference, and the [Mastery} item bank is full of great questions that we can use in between benchmarks, for our own classroom assessments. It's great to have so much quality [assessment] content,” Gaston said.

Canvas LMS & Mastery Connect: Transformational Together

Consistent use of their learning management system, Canvas LMS, also helped Hamilton County succeed.

“It’s so important to have tools that work together like Canvas and Mastery Connect. Because [students] have their instructional material inside of Canvas LMS, and they have their assessments inside of Canvas going through Mastery Connect; the students aren't confused. They know where to go," Bagby said.

“Mastery Connect works seamlessly inside of Canvas LMS. I love the way that teachers can set up their assessments, students take the assessments, [teachers] can push them out inside of Mastery Connect…and [students] go into Canvas LMS, click Mastery, boom, the assessment's there. They take the assessment, they finish the assessment, and it's graded automatically,” Bagby continued.

To learn more about building an assessment approach centered on student learning, download your free copy of Driving the Learning Journey with Actionable Assessment

Easing The Content Creation Lift With Mastery Item Bank

Teachers are busy and already working at or beyond their capacity. Mastery Item Bank eases the content creation burden.

“...Questions are already written for [teachers]...So you don't have to dig, you don't have to hunt….[Mastery Item Bank] and Mastery Connect will let you choose the level of question you want, level 1, 2, 3, and depth of knowledge questions that address what your kids need,” Goad said.

Meaningful assessment is an integral part of the culture at Hamilton County. To hear the rest of their story, watch our video featuring Hamilton County Schools and Mastery Connect

The Results

As Hamilton County's success shows, the right technology paired with a districtwide commitment to improving student outcomes is a strategy that works.

“...Our scores have more than doubled in the past four years, and we really credit a lot of that to our use of Mastery Connect. We have been a level five for three years in a row now, and that's a level five out of five. It's really transformational.”–Rachel Turner, Secondary Social Studies Content Lead



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