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Hunter School of the Performing Arts

Hunter School of the Performing Arts


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Mastery Learning

HSPA have implemented a Learner Dashboard and Mastery Learning System for stages 4 and 5. The Learner Dashboard provides outstanding transparency and 24/7 reporting of student achievement to parents and students. 

What is Mastery Learning?

Mastery learning is a way of designing units of work so that each set of tasks focuses on a particular learning objective and students aim to master a process, skill or their understanding of content, before moving on. By monitoring student progress through informal and formal assessments, teachers can provide additional support, enrichment or feedback to students depending on their level of mastery.

Mastery Learning places a much higher emphasis on feedback and levelling up, than on marks or grades. Students are encouraged to regularly review their feedback and current level of mastery, then consider ways they can 'Level Up'. It encourages students to exercise greater agency over their learning journey. HSPA students will earn Digital Badges which indicate their current level of mastery in any outcome for any subject, as well as general capability skills. Teachers will be analysing the auto-generated data and providing students with alternate learning opportunities for areas where they may require further support or extension.


Mastery Learning Assessment and Reporting

The evidence-based HSPA Mastery approach to learning, particularly for Years 7 to 10, requires some explanation to help parents understand how it impacts assessment and reporting.

A Mastery Learning approach considers the achievement of learning outcomes through a time-based lens. This means students are generally expected to gradually develop and enhance their knowledge and skills for each outcome across a two-year stage (Years 7 and 8 are known as Stage 4). Teachers continually (and often informally) assess students to understand their current proficiency in an outcome, award an appropriate mastery-based badge ranging from Emerging to Advanced, and then adjust future learning opportunities to suit the student’s current achievement level. For example, a student demonstrating a ‘Developing’ level of understanding may be provided with corrective strategies, while a student demonstrating a ‘Competent’ level of understanding may be provided with enrichment activities to extend their knowledge.

Year 7 and 8 students and parents have access to the internationally acclaimed HSPA Learner Dashboard. This dashboard provides parents and students with 24/7 access to student mastery levels for each course outcome, as well as cross-curriculum skills. The Dashboard is synced daily, meaning that badges reflect the student’s current achievement within 24 hours of accuracy.

Parents should consider that, in most cases, students are aiming for Competent badges. This means they have met the expected level of understanding or skill for their Stage, according to NESA requirements. They also have two years to develop this knowledge or skill. This means that a Year 7 student may have only been working on an outcome for a few weeks and therefore, understandably, be at an Emerging or Developing level. They may still have six terms to achieve Competent or higher in this outcome and should discuss ways to do this with their teacher or refer to the information found by clicking the badge on the Dashboard.

To ascertain whether a Year 7 or 8 student is at the expected level of mastery for an outcome, parents should refer to the spider web graphs on the Dashboard for each subject. These indicate student achievement versus cohort achievement. For instance, if a student is at an Emerging level for an outcome, and the cohort is also at an Emerging level, it is likely that the cohort is at the beginning of the learning journey for that outcome. Conversely, if a student is at an Emerging level for an outcome and the cohort is at a Competent level or higher, the student or parents should initiate a conversation with the class teacher to discuss ways to level up.

For more information, including video guides, see the Learner Dashboard, or the infographics below.


HSPA Mastery levels are:


  • Students only move to this level when they have excelled in regard to expectations for a student in the current stage.
  • It is often an exception that learners achieve at this level.
  • This level genrally indicates HPGE (High Potential and Gifted Education) status.


  • Students move to this level if they have a thorough understanding or can apply the concept or skill consistently and confidently.
  • Are able to adapt skills into new contexts.


  • Students move to this level when they understand the concept or can perform the skill and are meeting the requirements of the outcome.


  • Students move to this level when they are developing competency in the outcome and are demonstrating some understanding or competency of the concept or skill.


  • Students begin at this level and demonstrate an elementary knowledge and understanding in few areas of the content.
  • They will progress when they demonstrate an increase in skills or understanding of the associated outcome.


The infographs below provide advice on the HSPA Mastery Process as well as how HSPA students and parents can maximise their learning opportunities. 


What does this mean for the HSPA community?

HSPA teachers are aligning syllabus outcomes to activities and/or assessment via rubrics in Canvas. Teachers are able to analyse student proficiency at a granular level as well as from an overview perspective. This data is being used by HSPA teachers to design and differentiate learning opportunities for students.

From 2023, year 7 students and parents gained access to the Learner Dashboard. This dashboard is available through Canvas and communicates student Mastery achievement for every outcome of every course (these are referred to as Curriculum outcomes), as well as general capability skills measured across subjects. Skills such as Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication, Collaboration (these are referred to as Cross Curriculum Outcomes).

The HSPA Canvas based, Learner Dashboard will be the primary method for reporting to Y7 parents from 2023. This will provide HSPA parents access to their child's learning progress anytime anywhere. As opposed to the current twice per year model.

These achievement levels are represented by DIGITAL BADGES. Once awarded, badges remain the property of students, for life.

This means badges can be forwarded onto prospective employers when applying for work, or used to gain entry to tertiary education. 

Staff from HSPA are currently liaising with industry and tertiary education providers to develop Stage 6 Badges and Credentials which can provide HSPA students access to post school opportunities. 


The HSPA Mastery and Badging Site provides comprehensive detail of outcome criteria, enrichment and corrective activities, and a full list of all badges available. This is a constantly evolving resource.

The infographs below provide details of the Mastery Levels as well as how these progress across year groups/Stages. 

The video below from Kahn Academy succinctly communicates the benefits of a Mastery Learning approach to education.