Mastery Learning

The mastery approach allows students to work through material at their own pace.

Students will learn a concept/topic then when they are ready, they take an assessment on that concept.  If they earn 80% or above on that concept, they move on to the next concept and repeat.  If they scored less than 80% on the assessment, they need to go back and relearn the material and try the assessment again.  Homework is not part of the grade, and students view it as a tool to learn the concepts.  There are a couple of types of mastery.  The first is true mastery, and the second is practical mastery.


True Mastery

True mastery is the same as what is described above.  Students are given as much time as they need to get through the material.   A few students may only need half a year to get through a full year long course then they can either move on to the next math class or take an elective.  Most students will finish the year long course in a year while a few students may need to 1.5 years to mastery all the concepts in a course.  With true mastery it is easy for a math teacher to have several math “classes” throughout the day, but within each math “class” they have students in Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, and maybe even Pre-Calculus.   There is no need to have separate homogeneous classes since students are all working at their own pace.  Students just need a place to work on mathematics, and a teacher who can help them when they have questions, need an assessment, or need an assessment graded.  The Algebros (led by Spencer Bean , Michael Brust , Timothy Kelly , and Corey Sullivan , who all teach in different US Department of Defense schools in Germany) for the most part use this approach.  Their web site is  One difference from true mastery that the Algebros implement is that students who do not complete a yearlong course by the end of the year are required to attend summer school to get caught up.

Practical Mastery

Practical mastery is what the Byron High School mathematics department use and what a lot of schools use.  The true mastery does not work for a lot of schools because of either required seat time and/or limitations of the individual school’s master schedule.  

With practical mastery there is a set test date by which all students must take the unit test.  This is beneficial for most students since they are more motivated to get concepts completed when there is a deadline.  We give our students a recommended schedule they should follow for when they should be taking each mastery quiz for the unit.  Students who get behind sometimes need extra motivation while others need extra help from the teacher or just more time on particular topics.

Flipped Learning and Mastery (True Mastery or Practical Mastery) work well together.  Flipped Mastery starts with students watching the video and taking notes on a concept followed by practicing problems.  Once they feel confident they know the material from doing a self-check they take a mastery quiz.  Depending on how the students do on the mastery quiz they will either move onto the next section or go back and relearn the material.