EdTech Start-up Mastery Portfolio Seeks to Disrupt Traditional Grading System Proving Standards-First Grading is the Future of Education

Mastery Portfolio, a growing, Columbus-based Edtech start-up built by teachers for teachers, has a mission to revolutionize how grading, reporting, and thereby, learning is done in schools. Mastery Portfolio, an investor-backed company, seeks to disrupt the concept of traditional grading that seeks to rank and sort children based on point and letter-based systems to a standards-first and mastery-focused model. To meet the growing demand for their product, the company has added Starr Sackstein, a nationally renowned author, speaker, and educational thought leader as Chief Operating Officer and Partner. She will lead the expansion of the support team for schools and help accelerate company growth.

Mastery Portfolio helps schools build a roadmap and implement innovative grading schemes in their classrooms through their software and professional development workshops facilitated in-person and virtually. Their system is designed to improve education practices and break down barriers to standards-first grading, an innovation in education that focuses on learning and helps students increase achievement.

Today’s traditional grading system reinforces outdated models of education and can diminish student innovation. Through the standards-first and mastery-focused model championed by the Mastery Portfolio team, the student’s score is not the goal, rather the learning and continuous improvement is the key objective.

“We are thrilled to welcome Starr to the team as we look to make Mastery Portfolio a standard for classrooms across the country. There are many EdTech giants who offer software and a lot of consultants who offer workshops and training, but not a lot of outfits that do both well. Especially coming off the pandemic year in schools, we are thinking collaboratively with school leaders about the challenges in accurately assessing student skills and making instructional decisions accordingly. We know that theory and practice have to meet on the ground and in the classroom, and our mission is to help schools build the bridge between the two,” said Constance Borro, CEO and Co-Founder of Master Portfolio. “Our software is also built to be standards-first, not retrofitted to standards-based grading, and is totally customizable for schools without added fees. This level of flexibility and customization is rare in the EdTech world. Each school is unique, so our software and workshops reflect that.”

Sackstein will bring her deep experience and portfolio of schools to the Mastery Portfolio team. She joins the ranks of Mastery Portfolio’s leadership team, led by Constance Borro (Yale ’08), Chief Executive Officer, and Benjamin Nockles (NYU ’08), Chief Technical Officer. Borro and Nockles are seasoned educators with a combined 23 years of teaching experience in the classroom. They bring their perspective, experience, and entrepreneurial passion to transform how instructors record, assess and view data that is standards-first and mastery-focused.

Benjamin Nockles, CTO and Co-Founder of Mastery Portfolio added, “Most schools are stuck in a 19th-century grading pattern that rewards procedural thinking and systematic compliance, yet according to a recent study, over 80% of today’s college graduates are interested in becoming entrepreneurs. This antiquated system is inadequate for preparing our 21st-century workforce, and it also reduces students to a grade or a percentage. It also provides a sorely lacking picture of progress and learning, and completely misses a lot of talent rooted in creativity and problem-solving, skills that are not consistently assessed. Our mission is to develop and disseminate the training and the tools to address these problems through a revolutionary assessment and feedback cycle.”

Through the web-based platform teachers can fully implement a 21st century mastery curriculum and allow both students and parents to visually see their mastery level and growth throughout the school year. Parents in schools that have implemented the Mastery Portfolio system are seeing the value in the standards-first measuring techniques and appreciate the added insight into their child’s learning journey.

“What we really should be after as parents is our children understanding the material.I no longer think about it in terms of ‘Did they get an A?’ I think about it in terms of whether they understand the material,” said Dara Pizzuti, parent of two students in Mastery Portfolio classrooms. “ Before I saw the Mastery Portfolio reports, I’d never realized how much I was flying blind when I got report cards for my kids. Now I get these reports and I know exactly what my child understands and what she needs to work on.”

The company is currently serving public district, public charter, and independent schools across the country and are poised to expand to more school districts this coming year.

For more information about Mastery Portfolio, visit www.masteryportfolio.com.


About Mastery Portfolio

Mastery Portfolio is a Columbus, Ohio based start-up with a mission to revolutionize how grading, reporting, and thereby learning is done in school by eliminating the distractions (ranking and sorting of children, points, averages) and empowering students with the data and feedback they need to take control of their own learning journey. Mastery Portfolio works to fulfill this vision by providing tools, resources, and experiences to schools to empower them to innovate their grading scheme. Breaking down the barriers to managing mastery-based grading is what we do.

Mastery Portfolio offers a collection of web-based tools and professional development experiences designed to improve education practices. The MasteryBook, the company’s leading application, transforms how instructors record, assess and view data that is standards-first and mastery-focused. The goal is to bring teachers, parents, and students along on the learning journey together through clear expectations, communications, and meaningful data. Mastery Portfolio pairs their software with on-site workshop-style professional development offerings, parent workshops, and resources for students that are custom designed for the school and community of learning. 100% of the schools they contracted with for the 2020-2021 school year have committed to renewing their contracts for the 2021-2022 school year.

About Starr Sackstein

Starr Sackstein has been an educator for 20 years and is a full-time educational consultant, instructional coach, and speaker. She received National Board Certification in 2012 and was recognized as an outstanding educator that year by Education Update. She is also a certified Master journalism educator through the Journalism Education Association (JEA) and served as the New York State Director for JEA.

Sackstein’s background in educational leadership is diverse, and she leads the industry in her thought leadership through speaking engagements, blogs, and social media outreach. She was named an ASCD “Emerging Leader” class of 2016 and had the opportunity to give a TEDx Talk called “A Recovering Perfectionist’s Journey to Give Up Grades” and has spoken on The Red Dot Cafe in affiliation with TEDx San Antonio about grading practices. She is the author of many educational books and blogs on Education Week Teacher at “Work in Progress” and has contributed to several other publications. Starr has traveled the world sharing ideas about assessment reform internationally and hopes to continue changing the system for kids everywhere.