How Learning is Assessed
Traditional schools use assessment as a method of punishment to get their desired outcomes, not a tool to help students understand their areas of growth. Traditional assessment practices, particularly in the form of high-stakes testing rampant in schools today, create immense stress and limit the ability of students to revise their mistakes and improve over time. In a world where a single low test score can jeopardize a student’s dreams, students are stuck in fearful learning. While the threat of these consequences might drive engagement in the short term, it wreaks havoc on students’ mental health and creates a society with a Pavlovian association between learning and fear.
At Sora, we utilize a different methodology for assessing student performance. Instead of the classic grade point system in which students are penalized for not remembering a fact or understanding a concept the first time they encounter it, the faculty at Sora use mastery-based assessment. In this approach, students are awarded credit based on their demonstrated mastery of the material and, crucially, are given many opportunities throughout their high school journey to earn credit for each unit at an increasingly deeper level. In other words, if at first you don’t understand photosynthesis, try and try again. In this way, students can “overwrite” poor performances in the past and practice a growth mindset.