Location

Harborside Center East and West

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Relevance

This presentation supports the conference Strand I. - Academic Achievement and Leadership, by focusing on closing achievement gaps and promoting learning for all children and youth especially for high-risk populations. The research informing the presentation attempts to examine the ability of mastery learning to remediate low-level tracked students who are taking an academically rigorous Algebra 1 CP level course.

Brief Program Description

This presentation critiques educational tracking as a default system of grouping that perpetuates inequities particularly for students most likely to experience challenges with academic achievement (Rubin & Noguera, 2004). The research explores the mastery learning method in 9th grade Algebra I CP to improve achievement for students who enter high school without Pre-Algebra skills.

Summary

Mastery learning is based on the philosophy that all children can become achievers when taught at a level of their own proficiency and encouraged to progress at a rate of their ability to master clearly defined units of learning. Mastery learning proposes that all students can learn when provided with the appropriate learning conditions in the classroom. For students who have been tracked in the lowest levels of course content coupled with low teacher expectations throughout their educational careers, shouldering the burden of closing the achievement gap is an arduous task, however mastery learning for 9th grade mathematics students is being used as a method to close this gap for students who would have traditionally taken Algebra 1 Part 1 and 2 as their 9th grade math because they enter high school without Pre-Algebra skills. With the elimination of this two-part course, the low-track students are currently taking Algebra I CP. Mastery learning will assist teachers gain a clear understanding of the high-risk student population and expand their opportunities for success. Mastery learning in mathematics has been shown effective at the higher education level with a significant relationship existing between mastery learning correctives and end of unit test outcomes. Students also reported satisfaction with the mastery learning method (Shafiea, Shahdanb,& Liewa, 2010). DeWeese and Randolph (2011) suggested that because the mastery learning process can be time and labor intensive, teachers must be extremely strategic in the selection of correctives. Students from this project take a series of mini quizzes within each unit before the unit test is given. Teachers assess each quiz to check for misconceptions of content and design correctives for the unit test. Students take a unit test upon completion of all objectives taught. Students scoring below 77% can retake the unit test until mastery of the objective goals. Tutoring is required before retesting on a unit and objective tests must be retaken until each unit is mastered. The elimination of the lower track classes has been met with resistance and it is the expectation that mastery learning will alleviate concerns and bolster student performance.

Evidence

The proposed presentation is based on a new initiative that started academic year 2014-15. Collection of data is in progress and first round results will be analyzed and ready for report at the Spring 2015 conference.

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Rhonda Jeffries is Associate Professor for curriculum studies at the University of South Carolina and is the primary researcher for the program under investigation. She has conducted and directed numerous studies on culturally relevant pedagogy across the curriculum and taught in higher education for over 20 years.

Dr. Hope Reed is Department Chair for mathematics at Blythewood High School and is the primary developer of the program under investigation. She holds a National Board certification and has taught high school mathematics for over 20 years.

Keyword Descriptors

mathematics, mastery learning, culturally relevant pedagogy, differentiated instruction

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

Mastery Learning For 9th Grade Mathematics: Can the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Close the Achievement Gap?

Harborside Center East and West

This presentation critiques educational tracking as a default system of grouping that perpetuates inequities particularly for students most likely to experience challenges with academic achievement (Rubin & Noguera, 2004). The research explores the mastery learning method in 9th grade Algebra I CP to improve achievement for students who enter high school without Pre-Algebra skills.