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Competency Learning & Mastery Transcript

Reimagining Education

At Cascades Academy, we’re joining a growing movement to redesign education for learning. Here, students progress toward competency, master real-world skills, and can tell their story of learning beyond traditional grades.

Competency-Based Learning

The concept behind competency-based education is simple: learning is best measured by students demonstrating mastery of learning, rather than the number of hours spent in a classroom. By redesigning the education system around actual student learning, we will prepare each student more effectively for a future in an increasingly global and competitive economy.

Key Tenets of Competency-Based Learning

  • Students are empowered daily to make important decisions about their learning experiences, how they will create and apply knowledge, and how they will demonstrate their learning.
  • Assessment is a meaningful, positive, and empowering learning experience for students that yields timely, relevant, and actionable evidence.
  • Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs.
  • Students progress based on evidence of mastery, not seat time.
  • Students learn actively using different pathways and varied pacing.
  • Strategies to ensure equity for all students are embedded in the culture, structure, and pedagogy of schools and education systems.
  • Rigorous, common expectations for learning (knowledge, skills, and dispositions) are explicit, transparent, measurable, and transferable.

Source: Aurora Institute

How Competency-Based Learning Works

Curriculum centers around a set of competencies (mastery credits) which are a guarantee of our program quality. Students earn the full suite of foundational credits before graduation and showcase their interests and strengths with advanced credits. The competencies directly connect to our mission and vision, and they are our commitment to students that they will be prepared for what's next.

Competency-based education creates a high bar for all students, and no ceiling. Beyond the rigor of the required 32 foundational credits listed below, students will pursue advanced credits and own the process of curating the evidence that appears on their final transcript, including from beyond the classroom. Attached evidence will accurately reflect their strengths and differentiate them from peers. This active engagement in high school learning is the best way for students to develop the agency necessary to thrive in college and beyond.

Cascades Academy Foundational Competency Framework

Mastery Transcript

Cascades Academy is a Mastery Transcript Consortium (MTC) member and sending school for the class of 2027, meaning they are the first class to leave traditional grades for the Mastery Transcript. There are nearly 400 MTC member schools, and we are the first sending school in Oregon, distinguishing Cascades Academy as a leader in modernizing secondary education.

Cascades Academy is the first school in Oregon to implement the Mastery Transcript.

Competency-based learning is core to all Upper School curricula. While students prior to the class of 2027 are assessed using more traditional grading, our Mastery Transcript uses the competency framework outlined above.

Why Mastery Transcript?

The traditional transcript reinforces outdated modes of education, constrains innovation, limits learning to single subjects, and impedes the pursuit of educational equity and excellence. It sorts and sifts students through narrow measures such as grades and GPAs, reducing each complex and unique individual to a simple number.

The Mastery Transcript is a dramatic improvement to the status quo. It supports each student in learning for today’s world, in exploring and pursuing varied pathways to futures that compel them, and in being recognized for acquiring and mastering skills both inside and outside of school.

Sample mastery transcript

College Admission

The Mastery Transcript was co-designed with admissions officers for universal understanding and to give readers a more holistic picture of a prospective student. It includes their skills, interests, courses taken, and tangible work samples associated with competencies earned. This level of detail ultimately empowers students and demonstrates how they will thrive at a specific college or program.

Applicants with the Mastery Transcript have been accepted to hundreds of schools, including including University of Oregon, University of Washington, Caltech, Colorado College, Harvard, NYU, and MIT.

Mastery Transcript FAQs