Progress and Mastery Tracking

By supporting learners to track their progress and mastery, teachers can create a culture of ownership over mastery data
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Mastery Tracking

About This Strategy

Progress and Mastery tracking involves the public or private tracking of learner mastery over time to build shared ownership and accountability over that mastery.  Progress tracking is a support for learners to help them identify how their current mastery relates to time either in self-paced environments (i.e. progress towards the end of a project, unit) or for longer-term goals (i.e. reaching a reading level). These trackers can help learners take stock of their progress and can lead to goal-setting and checklists to intervene when they get off track or have exceeded their goals. Mastery tracking refers to tracking learners' mastery of standards or skills. These trackers support learners to understand at a deeper level what mastery is expected of them in order to help them identify areas of strength and growth.  

Implementation Steps

  1. Brainstorm your goals for the tracker.  Do you want learners to set goals based on this tracker? Do you want them to adjust their learning pathway based on their skill gaps? Do you want to celebrate student growth? 

  2. Decide what kind of tracking system you want.  Do you want a progress tracker where learners track their progress towards a 'finish line'? Or do you want a mastery tracker where students maintain records of their assessments and other mastery data?

  3. Decide if this tracker should be public or private.  A public tracker increases accountability and pride but requires more norming up front so that students are not embarrassed if their progress stalls. You'll want to consider the benefits of displaying trackers publicly vs. keeping them private between you and the learner.

  4. Design the tracker to be student-friendly and clear. Be sure to keep your goals in mind as you design the tracker. See the resources below for a variety of formats for trackers.

  5. Develop procedures for how, when, and where learners will interact with the trackers.

    • Set norms with learners about the purpose of the tracker, and what your goals are. It is important to norm the uses of the trackers, including the purpose behind them, so learners can invest in the systems you build around it.

  6. Run the procedures one time as practice, where everyone advances and/or masters the first 'assessment,' to invest students in the system and to identify potential challenges. 

Progress and Mastery Tracking For Distance Learning

Progress and Mastery tracking involves the public or private tracking of learner mastery over time to build shared ownership and accountability over that mastery.  This strategy can support students to practice skills and track progress towards mastery in distance learning.

Implementation steps:

  1. Review the steps from above to ensure you have a strong understanding of Progress and Mastery Trackers. 

  2. If this system is new to students, be sure to introduce the idea of a tracker to students, share the tracking system (public or private), and explain the goals of this system.

    • To do this synchronously, schedule a live meeting for students and spend time discussing the goals and introducing the trackers.

    • To do this asynchronously, consider creating a video for students to watch about the tracker. You can use a tool, such as Loom, to create your video. See the Loom Tutorial in the resource section below for more information.

      •  Provide an opportunity for students to ask questions after watching the video. Consider providing a Padlet or discussion via your LMS to do so. For more information on Padlet, see the tutorial in the resource section below.

      • Consider providing Office Hours for students to ask questions.

  3. After the introduction, launch the trackers. Be sure to have clear expectations for students. Consider:

    • How will students practice the skills? Consider using the platforms or tasks you have already been using in distance learning to support students. 

    • Will you set a deadline for students to complete the skills? 

    • Determine how and when students will interact with the tracker.

  4. Determine if students will work on tasks to reach mastery synchronously or asynchronously.

    • For synchronous sessions, consider focusing on skills and allowing students to reflect on their level of mastery through a formative assessment. Consider having small group sessions for re-teaching for students who need additional support.

    • For asynchronous sessions, consider having students work on a Hyperdoc Pathway to practice the skills. See the BetterLesson Hyperdoc Pathway Strategy for more information. 

  5. Continue to have students practice skills and track their progress towards mastery. Provide opportunities for students to re-assess the skills.

  6. Provide opportunities for students to reflect and conference with you throughout the process.

Mastery Trackers for Assessment System

As you use assessments throughout the school year, having a private or public tracking system gives your learners an opportunity to reflect on those assessments and to return back to them periodically for review and remediation of missed skills.

Implementation steps:

  1. Create a digital and/or paper tracker with optional spaces for post-assessment reflection, error analysis, and re-takes.
    • Decide if you want students to track their progress by assessment, by standard, or by a more granular list of skills.
  2. Norm with learners about the purpose of the tracker.
  3. After students complete or re-take an assessment, update the tracker so that students can review their mastery so far. 
    • Build in time for students to complete their assessment reflection or error analysis after completing an assessment. 

Treasure Map or CandyLand Progress Tracker for Self-Paced Learning

Kelly Kennefick
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

The Treasure Map and Candy Land Path trackers are progress tracking tools that students use as they move through self-paced units.

The Treasure Map consists of two components: a student tracking form and a visual tracker. The goal of the Treasure Map is to provide increased accountability and student ownership for students to move at their own pace through a topic of study or a set of skills without creating hard deadlines. Students enter the tracker when they start a unit and end the tracker when they complete a unit. As students complete a level, within the allotted time, they earn another piece of the treasure map.  You can add an additional incentive to encourage students to move through the levels at a slightly quicker pace.

The CandyLand Path tracker is similar to the Treasure Map as students work to move through a CandyLand game board that is displayed around the room. Once a student has demonstrated competency in a particular skill, he or she can move his or her game piece to another space on the CandyLand game board.

Implementation Steps:

  1. Determine the components of the Treasure Map Progress Tracker. It is suggested that students have a form or their own tracker as well as a visual tracker. 

    • An alternative to the Treasure Map is a Candy Land visual tracker. In the Candy Land tracker, students must master a level to move to the next square throughout the room. To learn more about this alternative, review the video and overview in the resource section.

  2. Determine how students will interact with each of the components.

    • Will you use a Treasure Map Progress form and a visual tracker? Will both be required?

  3. Determine when/how students will earn a piece of the treasure map

  4. Determine if you will include an incentive that students earn after achieving a certain number of pieces. Be sure to consider what would be motivating for students to progress through the units as quickly and efficiently as possible.

  5. Create the actual treasure map progress tracking form and a visual tracker and introduce it to students. 

    • Set norms with students about the tracking form and the visual tracker.

  6. Develop procedures for how, when, and where learners will interact with the progress tracking form and visual tracker.

    • Set norms with learners about the purpose of the tracker, and what your goals are. It is important to norm the uses of the trackers, including the purpose behind them, so learners can invest in the systems you build around it.

  7. As students work towards completion of a level, remind them of the tracker. Model how students engage with the tracker through the level.

Power Up Mastery Tracker

Kelly Kennefick
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

The Power Up strategy gamifies weekly spiraled review practice to track mastery of foundational skills. Students practice a foundational skill each week as a bellringer. At the end of the week, students take an assessment. If they score 80% or higher, they have an opportunity to “power up.” In addition, as students “power up” they track their progress on a visual tracker. The visual tracker can be private or public. 

Implementation Steps:

  1. Determine what foundational skills students will practice. Assign each skill a level.

  2. Create a visual tracker to enable students to track their progress and take ownership of their learning.

    • Determine if you will use a public or private tracker or both. Examples are provided in the resource section.

  3. Introduce the Power Up strategy to your students and the visual trackers.

    • Set norms with learners about daily practice, the purpose of the tracker, and what your goals are. It is important to norm the uses of the trackers, including the purpose behind them, so learners can invest in the systems you build around it.

  4. Launch the Power Up strategy in your classroom by having students practice skills at level one. Students should practice the skill daily as the bellringer.

  5. At the end of the week, provide an assessment of the skill.

    • Digital assessments allow for instant feedback and easy tracking.

  6. If students score above a certain percentage, they “power up.” 

    • Determine what percentage students must score to power up. Typically, 80% is used. 

  7. When students power-up, provide them with an opportunity to highlight their progress in their visual mastery trackers.

  8. Continue the process weekly.

Special Education Modification

Nedra MassenburgDEMO
Special Education Specialist

Using a Progress tracker is an excellent way to support students with disabilities to keep track of their own mastery and help them build self-advocacy skills.   Successful use of a Mastery Tracker requires teachers planning for the variety of skills required of students: emotional regulation,  significant executive functioning skills (task initiation, prioritization, working memory, etc.), written expression skills, reading skills and verbal expression skills.  In order to support students with disabilities who have difficulty in these areas, consider the following modifications:


  1. Teacher knowledge and acknowledgment of student disabilities is key to use Mastery Trackers effectively. Teachers should consult with special education department administrators or specialized teachers for information on specific disability types and needs present in a classroom.  This will help ensure that these students have appropriate accommodations or modifications to assess mastery of skills.

  2. Traditional paper-based, written methods of assessment may limit the ability of students with disabilities to demonstrate their learning. In conjunction with traditional assessments, consider giving these students the opportunity to demonstrate their learning through: conferences, take-home reflections, oral presentations or re-tellings, learning logs, graphic organizers, cloze exercises, visual/image representation, etc. See the "Differentiation Techniques" resource in the resource section below for more information.

  3. Use visual aids, timers, and verbal reminders to help students with task initiation and task completion while they are working using their trackers.  Depending upon the number of students with disabilities present in a classroom, teachers should consider increasing the amount of time they spend on explicitly teaching norms of using Mastery Trackers.

  4. Students with disabilities could be provided with more scaffolded supports (extra time, reference sheets, graphic organizers, etc) during their independent work time. Students could also be given leveled work based on their accommodations as options on their Progress Trackers. Teachers should think carefully about the approach of quality over quantity when helping students with disabilities track their mastery.  Special emphasis for these students could be put on mastery of the highest leverage skills in a unit. 

  5. If multiple teachers are present in a setting, consider having one teacher work in a small group of students with more intensive disabilities to help provide more targeted guidance on using Progress Trackers.

EL Modification

Shannon Coyle
English Learner Specialist

Trackers are an excellent way to provide a visual means of monitoring achievement and  investing English learners in their own success. 

English learners are required to read and write to record in their trackers as well as listen and speak while discussing or interacting with trackers. In order to support English Learners consider the following modifications:


  1. Orient learners to trackers. Preview trackers to English learners at lower levels of proficiency in language they can understand. Ensure learners understand all components of the trackers, vocabulary used in trackers, tracker norms, and how and when trackers will be used in class. See the "WIDA Can Do Descriptors" in the resource section below for more information.
  2. Ensure differentiated learning tools are provided. English learners require scaffolded learning materials and classroom supports in order to learn English and content at the same time. Learners who are not supported academically may feel frustrated. Ensure that learners are working with materials they can understand in order to avoid academic frustration over lack of progress or mastery. See the "12 Ways to Support English Learners in the Mainstream Classroom" resource in the resource section below for more information.
  3. Perform 1:1 check-ins with English learners. Use independent work time to ensure learners are using trackers correctly and are creating appropriate goals and action plans. See the "Teacher Tool: Leveled Question Prompts for English Language Learners" resource in the resource section below for more information.
  4. Ensure assessments are fair accurate assessments of learners. Consider accommodating, modifying or creating alternative assessments for English learners that aim to distinguish between linguistic and content mastery so their goals may be focused appropriately. Consider partnering with learners’ language specialist. See the "Using Informal Assessment in the Classroom" resource in the resource section below for more information.

Coach Tips

Daniel Guerrero
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

If you are new to this, the easiest place to start is a progress-based tracker that is not time-bound.  For example, create a tracker supporting students to "master 50 skills on IXL" or "Read 10 chapter books before December 31."  These can be public, class-wide, and updated at an irregular interval, while still building investment and understanding of mastery at the same time.

Tech Tool


  • Google Sheets are a free online spreadsheet that can be created, edited, and shared from a phone, tablet, or computer. Google sheets contains ready formulas, and can produce a wide variety of tables.
  • GoogleSheets could be either a student-facing or teacher-facing tool to keep track of the assessment systems and ensure that any public trackers are accurate.