The Idaho Mastery Education Resource Center provides information, resources, and professional development opportunities for educational stakeholders. The Resource Center is supported by the incubation process and learning happening within the Idaho Mastery Education Network.
Mastery is what signals that a student has succeeded in a competency, learning goal, or standard and has achieved the kind of learning that lasts.
Mastery Education is an education system where student progress is based upon a student’s demonstration of mastery of competencies and content, not seat time or the age or grade level of the student as stated in Idaho Code §33-1632(5)(b).
A student can accelerate through concepts and skills they have mastered and receive more time and support in areas where that may be more difficult. The new system is comprehensive and can include fundamental changes in schedules, calendars, assessment, and grading.
Key design principles were outlined in the working definition of mastery education developed by a collaboration of innovative leaders and practitioners, led by CompetencyWorks and iNACOL, include:
Students advance upon mastery
Competencies include explicit, measureable, transferable learning objectives that empower students
Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students
Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs
Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge along with the development of important skills and dispositions.
Note:The terms mastery, proficiency, and competency based are often used interchangeably.
Transitioning to ME was one of the recommendations from the Governor’s Task Force for Improving Education. Moving away from the current time-based system will allow for more personalized and differentiated learning. ME requires a focus on explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives that will empower students. Additionally, it includes competencies that require application of knowledge and skill development.
In 2015, House Bill 110 directed the SDE to perform the following activities to move Idaho toward a Mastery Education system:
Conduct a statewide awareness campaign to promote understanding and interest in Mastery-based Education for teachers, administrators, parents, students, business leaders and policymakers.
Establish a committee of educators to identify roadblocks and possible solutions in implementing Mastery Education and develop recommendations for the incubator process.
Facilitate the planning and development of an incubator process and assessments of local education agencies to identify the initial cohort of 20 local education agencies to serve as incubators in fiscal year 2017.
The common goal of our current system and a mastery system is to ensure all students are proficient in Idaho Content Standards.
In traditional models of education, all students are promoted at the same time, whether or not each student fully mastered the content, which can result in gaps in students’ learning. This is sometimes referred to as “swiss-cheese learning” as these learning gaps may be pre-cursor skills needed to understand more advanced concepts.
Providing the statutory and structural flexibility necessary to make prompt assessments and decisions regarding student progress with a stated goal of ensuring proficiency before advancement is what distinguishes a mastery system.
The goal moves from earning points, grades, and credits to accomplishing learning goals. In the traditional system, a low grade can be seen as failure and is terminal. In a competency-based system, it’s just the beginning of the journey to mastery.
Too many students graduate without demonstrating that they are ready for college or career. Diplomas and credits based on seat time and mere passing grades allow students to think they are ready for college and career, but the data tells us otherwise.
Too many employers believe many high school graduates are not fully prepared for work. Four in five employers report that recent public high school graduates have at least some gaps in preparation and report an increase in the need to require additional training and education.1
Too many students perceive gaps in their preparation. A survey of high school graduates revealed that many feel unprepared for both college and work and admit they would have worked harder if more had been expected of them.2
Too many high school graduates require postsecondary remediation. More than 50 percent of students entering two-year colleges and nearly 20 percent of those entering four-year universities are placed in remedial classes.3
There are clear signals that despite adopting college- and career-ready standards, the original problem of non-proficiency remains. The requirement to demonstrate competency in order to advance will help ensure that students will graduate when they are ready for college and career, regardless of how long it may take or what the path may look like.
Mastery Education ensures all students have access to a learner-centered experience where student success is the only option.
Flexibility - Educators are using innovative teaching strategies and providing innovative learning spaces. This frees up time and resources, allowing teachers to better serve their students.
Transparency - With clear goals and benchmarks laid out, both students and parents are able to see exactly where they are in their studies, and what is expected of them.
Desire to Learn - Students are engaged in their learning as they make meaning, investigate, create/design, communicate, and synthesize their learning. Students are offered choice and are able to incorporate their interests into their studies.
Student-Centered Learning - Students whork at a flexible pace, with choice and voice in their learning. Instructional support is given with an emphasis placed on fully learning instead of just earning grades.
Success - Students work to fully understand the content and skills they need to advance in school—and beyond. Failure no longer exists; and students are no longer advanced based exclusively on time.
Academic Knowledge and Skills - As students complete their work, they receive immediate feedback through formative assessments. This model encourages students to focus and engage until they achieve mastery.
Please review the following overview to learn more about how competency-based education (mastery education) is advancing across the United States. NCSL Overview (PDF)
Mastery Education requires instructional techniques that are different from the traditional classroom. Teachers take on the role of the facilitator and learning coach, as opposed to delivering content. Teachers who are engaged early in the planning process report greater job satisfaction4. This is due, in part, to the focus on learning that occurs with ME and the local decisions made regarding implementation and support.
As a parent you will be empowered by a transparent system that clearly shows how your child is doing. All stakeholders, as they do now, will have a voice and opportunity to help shape your child’s learning. It is system that will help teachers better meet the needs of your child.
An ongoing awareness campaign is being conducted by the Mastery Education Department (MED). Key communication tools and resources are being developed by the MED to support superintendents, administrators, and educators in conveying a common message about the positive impact Mastery Education is having on our students. Data and best practices are being gathered from the Idaho Mastery Education Network to circulate to all stakeholders including parents.