Make It Personal
Strategies to Make the Vision a Reality
Students earn credits toward graduation by demonstrating mastery of required knowledge and skills rather than by completing courses. Mastery is demonstrated within a traditional classroom setting or in other learning opportunities that are aligned with graduation standards.
Mastery Based Learning is an instructional strategy and educational philosophy. It maintains that students must achieve a level of mastery in prerequisite knowledge before moving forward to learn subsequent information. If a student does not achieve mastery on an assessment, he or she is given additional support in learning and reviewing the information, then assessed again. This cycle will continue until the learner accomplishes mastery and may move on to the next stage.
Mastery Based Learning methods require that the focus of instruction should be insuring that all students master the standards, realizing that the time required for different students to learn the same material and achieve the same level of mastery may differ. This is very much in contrast to classic models of teaching, in which students are given approximately the same amount of time to learn and the same set of instructions.
In Mastery Based Learning there is a shift in responsibilities so that students are responsible for their own learning. In a mastery-based learning environment, the challenge becomes providing enough time and employing instructional strategies so that all students can achieve the same deep level of learning.
In May of 2013, the state legislature passed Connecticut’s Act for Unleashing Innovation in Connecticut Schools.13 This bill states that local boards of education may grant a high school diploma through a “demonstration of mastery based on competency and performance standards, in accordance with guidelines adopted by the State Board of Education.”14
Currently, there are 29 secondary schools and 7 school districts in the process of transforming their education system to be based on a philosophy of personalized learning.