Title

Implementing Mastery Learning to Increase Rigor, Achievement, and Career and College Readiness for All Students

Location

Harborside Center East and West

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Relevance

While the concept of mastery learning is most relevant to Strand 1 “Head”: Academic Achievement and Leadership, implementation in a school serving at-risk/underperforming students can have far reaching and transformative effects on each of the five strands the conference is following this year. The use of mastery in the instruction and assessment of student performance gives each student ownership of their intellectual growth and progress. As the concept spreads to all courses and disciplines, students build personal agency and begin feeling their own positive identity as a learner and equal partner in the completion of their courses with their teachers; they are motivated by achievement and the self-esteem generated by their accomplishments. Students who are making real and tangible progress are far less likely to engage in negative behaviors, use drugs and alcohol, and see themselves as a member of the greater community.

Brief Program Description

Mastery learning, used in an alternative learning program, can have a transformative effect on the performance and outcomes of at-risk students. Attendees will be given an overview of the model used in alternative schools in Indianapolis for more than ten years, a framework for planning and implementation, key resources, and a sample professional development plan for teachers.

Summary

The model that this presentation will be based has been used to great effect in three alternative schools in the Indianapolis area over the last fifteen years. Mr. Peeler, the lead presenter, has developed the model specifically to address the needs of urban students whose academic progress puts them at risk of not graduating from high school in a timely manner. Using mastery for instruction and assessment, student performance earning course credits and successfully passing the requisite high stakes tests increase dramatically, leading to greatly increased graduation rates and continued success as students move to college or careers. The idea of mastery learning in the context of K-12 education was explored by Benjamin Bloom in the late 60s and early 70s. Bloom coined the terms learning for mastery and mastery learning in 1968 and 1971 respectively, and wrote the introduction to Thomas Guskey’s Implementing Mastery Learning, the second edition of which was published in 1996. In it, Guskey says that Bloom hypothesized that a classroom with a mastery learning focus as opposed to a traditional form of instruction would reduce the achievement gaps between varying groups of students. Mastery learning is based in the constructivist philosophy which has students learning one unit before proceeding to more advanced learning tasks. In this way, students grow in their understanding of subjects in the same manner as everyone learns nonacademic skills. An apprentice carpenter doesn’t become a master carpenter until he/she has mastered the prerequisite skills. You wouldn’t want to live in a house built by a carpenter who scored a 60% on the test, so why do we push students forward when they are equally unprepared? The model explored and shared in this presentation has demonstrated that students make significant meaningful progress almost immediately regardless of prior academic success. Participants will be given usable samples of calendars, schedules, assessments, curriculum maps, course outlines, and other field tested artifacts used in the mastery school. They will take part in group activities which are used by teachers in the school to encourage engagement, critical thinking, and student personal academic accountability. After attending the session, participants will have at least five classroom strategies that can be immediately implemented without purchasing any supplies, equipment, or books.

Evidence

The mastery model Mr. Peeler will present has been used at four different schools. The model has evolved over the last 15 years and student performance at each of the schools has improved as it has been fine tuned. At The Renaissance School in MSD of Warren Township, Indianapolis, Indiana, the rate at which students earned credits went from 33% the year prior to implementation to 90-92% the 4 years after. Students also increased the pace of their progress towards graduation significantly, averaging 5.5 years to complete the required 40 credits the year before implementation and 3.9 years the three years after implementation.

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Tom Peeler is the Coordinator of the Positive Supports Academy in the Indianapolis Public Schools. Tom has been an administrator of traditional and alternative schools for eleven years, leading innovative change to support the needs of all students. Before becoming an administrator, he taught English, Reading, and Geography in both alternative and traditional classrooms. Tom is a candidate for a PhD in Curriculum, Technology, and Media Technology at Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana.

Keyword Descriptors

Masterylearning, engagement, at-risk, urban, k-12

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-3-2015 4:00 PM

End Date

3-3-2015 5:30 PM

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Mar 3rd, 4:00 PM Mar 3rd, 5:30 PM

Implementing Mastery Learning to Increase Rigor, Achievement, and Career and College Readiness for All Students

Harborside Center East and West

Mastery learning, used in an alternative learning program, can have a transformative effect on the performance and outcomes of at-risk students. Attendees will be given an overview of the model used in alternative schools in Indianapolis for more than ten years, a framework for planning and implementation, key resources, and a sample professional development plan for teachers.