QSI Virtual School uses a mastery learning approach to online instruction.
Mastery Learning is a well-researched practice with strong evidence for being highly effective where students learn more information than traditional school methods which receive a percentage grade to pass and move on. Mastery Learning is not a new concept but is starting to become the model for schools looking to reach all students in a more engaging and meaningful way. The idea is simple. In a traditional school, students can pass their courses and miss 40%, 30%, 20%, 10%, and even 5% of the course content. In Mastery Learning schools, we care about the students mastering 100% of the course content. We believe that these gaps in learning, if left unchecked, turn into deficits, difficulties, and frustrations in learning in the future.
At QSI Virtual School, students do not proceed to the next unit until the skills and knowledge from the current unit is mastered.
What is Mastery Learning?
Mastery Learning is an educational approach in which students must achieve mastery of a subject before moving forward to learn subsequent information about that subject; learning builds on established understanding. Students are given the time and support they need to reach mastery.
Time is a Resource
- The outcomes that are designed to develop students into well-educated and well-adjusted individuals are thoroughly mastered.
- In QVS courses, time becomes the focused variable and changes with the intention of increasing all student performance.
- Time is not an indicator OF success but a tool FOR success. As a result of varying the time indicator for success, more students are able to demonstrate proficiency and achievement at higher levels throughout the year.
Instruction at the Appropriate Level
- We believe that success builds upon success.
- When students master all the learning objectives in one unit, they move onto the next unit.
- Learning at a level that is too easy may lead to boredom, and learning at a level that is too difficult often leads to frustrations.
- Teachers use a variety of instructional strategies to ENGAGE all students as they explore the content within each unit.
Assessment FOR Learning
- Mastery learning adheres to the principle that students must demonstrate proficiency or mastery in knowledge, content, and skills.
- If a student is not able to demonstrate mastery, he or she is provided with additional and differentiated support to first relearn the material and is then reassessed on it.
- This cycle continues, similar to one-on-one tutoring until the learner has achieved true mastery.
- In this way, QSI uses assessment FOR learning, rather than just assessment OF learning.
Mastery Learning Supports Student Achievement
We expect every student to be successful and we create the conditions for this success:
Students are placed in classes where they will be appropriately challenged.
Instruction based on students’ needs.
- Small class sizes.
- Teaching until mastery is demonstrated (low or inconsistent performance isn’t good enough to move on to the next unit or course).
- Giving students enough time to master new material so that more students demonstrate proficiency and achievement at higher levels throughout the year.
- Requiring more from students; they are challenged to achieve a deep level of understanding rather than passing a course with only a 70% understanding.