At M.S. 442 in Brooklyn, students are encouraged to focus on mastering a set of grade-level skills and moving on to the next set of skills only after demonstrating that they are ready. In these schools, there is no such thing as an A and there is no failing. The only goal is to learn the material. The system has already significantly increased competency in the middle school's students. In the 2013-14 school year, only 7% of students read at grade level, and 5% met the state's math standards. Two years later, 29% were proficient in English, and 26% proficient in math. To make the system work, teachers used New York State curriculum guidelines and Common Core standards to develop a rubric of every skill students needed before they could move to the next grade.
New York City Department of Education has a growing program called the Mastery Collaborative, which helps mastery-based schools share their methods around the city. There are currently eight lab schools, including M.S. 442 whose practices are being tested, honed, and highlighted for transitioning schools. Some struggling schools hope the shift will raise test scores. But the method is also growing in popularity among high-performing, progressive schools, as well as those catering to gifted and talented students and newly arriving immigrants.
For more information about the Mastery Collaborative, visit http://www.masterycollaborative.org/
By: Alex Alo