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Junior Defense

“I wasn’t sure what to expect when I was invited to participate as a guest evaluator on the junior defense panel, but I said yes anyway. The matrix for evaluation seemed kind of intimidating and I wasn’t sure just what I was expected to contribute to the student experience. However, the actual experience blew me away. There was a teacher that gave us some background on the process and the student, but the best part of the panel was a student on the panel with us who was absolutely invested in the process and lead our way with their thoughts and comments. The students that presented their work were interesting, invested, passionate, and impressive. I’d do it again in a heartbeat and if you are invited – say yes!”
- Junior Defense Panelist, AEM


This Mastery Credit Defense Process usually occurs in a student's junior year and culminates with a public presentation in which students demonstrate their mastery of learning in a specific credit area. 


Students present their defense to a committee composed of a Pathways High content area specialist, two students, and two guest evaluators from outside the school.  These guests work in a wide-variety of settings in both for profit and nonprofit organizations, providing students with a real-world evaluation of their work.


Components of Defense:

  • Mastery Credit: Students identify a subject area for which they wish to pursue a mastery credit. They may refine an existing project or undertake a completely new project. Their evidence is included on their final mastery transcript. 

  • Student Selected Project: Students produce evidence of mastery learning via projects and work products they have completed over the course of one or more trimesters.

  • Defense Presentation/Evaluation: Using a rigorous defense rubric, a panel of evaluators reviews all elements of the defense presentation and supporting work products and comes to consensus on an overall defense score. The evaluation panel is not a rubber stamp as the average pass rate is 65%.

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