Student and teacher perspectives on the effects of mastery learning on the academic achievement of secondary students
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Mastery learning techniques have regained popularity in the last ten years as one possible way of meeting the different educational needs of students within the same classroom, helping all to succeed. Mastery learning strategies are being used in current classrooms as a way to meet the demands of No Child Left Behind ,Common Core State Standards, and the Race to the Top Initiative. These strategies include a 4.0 grading scale, tracking by objectives, allowing multiple attempts to demonstrate proficiency, and opportunities to demonstrate knowledge beyond the realms of the classroom instruction. This study examined the topic of mastery grading through a qualitative research design, in which students and teachers were interviewed and observed to examine their feelings and experiences concerning mastery learning strategies. This thesis is a small snapshot of one district’s efforts at implementing a new grading paradigm that aligns with contemporary mastery learning ideas. The findings of this study revealed that an overall negative perception of mastery grading existed in the school district used for this study. Through the acts of working towards consistency, creating reasonable expectations, reducing class sizes, providing more time to teachers, and allowing more opportunities to reflect and collaborate on mastery, the perception can shift to an effective instructional strategy where students can reach their optimal level of performance.