The Coming Battle for Our Kids’ Future: Mastery vs Seat Time

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What’s more important for our kids – mastering skills and subject matter, or simply accumulating time spent sitting in a classroom?
The answer may be obvious, but the question is at the center of a long-raging debate among education policy experts and reformers.
At GLEP, we’re convinced Michigan students deserve schools that cut through the noise and deliver results. We’re fighting for reforms that put those children first. And we think it’s time for a brand-new approach.
Imagine an education environment where students can learn at their best pace to ensure they comprehend the subject matter.
Imagine a system that empowers kids to rise to the challenge of teaching and learning from their fellow students, and where arbitrary age and seat time barriers don’t impede their progress – or stand in the way of their potential.
Imagine big bureaucracies in Lansing that are focused on helping children who struggle with a subject master it, instead of ignoring the problem one failed education at a time.
Michigan kids are worth it. Those are dreams worth chasing.
Beth DeShone
Executive Director, Great Lakes Education Project

Getting Smart:What is Mastery Learning?

“Effective implementation at scale will completely change how students learn, how teachers teach, and how schools work. It will revolutionize state testing, education research, and the labor market. It will transform how curricula are developed, how learning is measured, and how teachers are trained.“Yes, it is THAT big.”

Education Week:6 Big Mistakes that can Undermine Personalized Learning Efforts

“People say “personalized learning” like there is a single definition or set of practices, but there isn’t. It’s a philosophy, not a set of instructional practices. The question really is, what kind of personalized learning are you aiming for? Schools need to ask themselves, “How are we going to define it? What are the specific practices we’re going to try?”
“If we can offer something to a student to make them successful that another school can’t, it’s okay. And if the other school can offer something to make that same student successful that we can’t, that’s okay, too,” she said. “But we just need those options to be able to ensure that we’re not losing that love of learning from our students and be able to give them something that will allow them to be successful.”
The education policy debate between a so-called “mastery” approach and more common (and less effective) seat time requirements is not a new one. It’s an emotional discussion often fueled by a lack of understanding surrounding goals, approaches, and practical implementation.
Mastery-based education does not mean that every student moves at his or her own pace. It isn’t a system where the “high flyers” move forward aggressively while struggling learners are “left behind.” In fact, it’s an approach that ensures no student is ever forgotten – and no challenge ignored. In fact, mastery-based education means that the student is the center of every educational decision, that there is far more collaboration in a building or district, and that students become more empowered over their personal learning.
Do you want to learn more about mastery-based education? Are you ready to join the fight for change?
Keep watching our newsletter and social media for more information about working towards accomplishing these policy goals for Michigan students.