FAQ About Mastery-Based Learning


What are the benefits of mastery-based schooling?

Our student work harder and learn more because of mastery-based learning. Students proceed from one assignment to the next, from one unit to the next, from one course to the next, or from one grade to the next when they have mastered the skills and content introduced in their classes. Students move forward when they demonstrate that they are ready for what comes next. When students graduate from HSC ALSJ, they are truly college and career ready.

Do college admissions officers understand mastery-based transcripts?

Yes! Recent HSC ALSJ graduates were accepted to Yale University, Boston College, University of Connecticut, University of New Haven, Albertus Magnus College, Bennington College, Hampshire College, Unity College, Southern Connecticut State University, Marlboro College, Lesley University, Wentworth Institute of Technology, and more.

All of New Hampshire and much of Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts use mastery-based learning programs, so colleges that accept students from around the country understand the system. When we moved to mastery, we invited admissions officers from the University of New Haven, UConn, Yale, Gateway Community College, and other local schools to ensure that they were informed about our new policies, and they were all quite enthusiastic about the change.

How does a student show mastery?

Students are  assessed through a variety of methods such as quizzes, tests, labs, and papers, but also through debates, performances, computer assessments, projects, and a range of out-of-school experiences.

What if a student just doesn’t get something?

High school is general preparation for adulthood and all material can be learned by all students if they have the time and support that they need. At HSC, students get the time and the support they need to learn the material completely. This makes later learning even easier.

How do tests and projects work?

Students take assessments when they are ready. If a student does not show mastery on any assessment, s/he can do a similar assessment after more study. Students can take assessments as many times as needed until they achieve mastery.

How do students know they are on track?

Progress reports and report cards provide information to students and their families about student mastery levels AND about student pace. If students are not on pace to complete the course in a timely fashion, then they come to EagleTime for extra support. Students are also notified regularly in class about where they ought to be in order to complete the course content in one academic year. Jumprope, our online grading program, gives parents and students up-to-date information about student progress

Isn’t the classroom chaotic?

Yes and no. The class can be louder as student-to-student discourse is ongoing and helps all to achieve mastery. But students are more actively engaged. Research shows that people learn by doing (talking, writing, experimenting, etc). Students spend their time actively learning, not zoning out during a lecture or activity.

Do students get credit for trying?

Yes and no. As in life, students do not get to show they have achieved mastery just by showing up. However, students who try are much, much closer to mastery than students who give up.

Is there extra credit?

Students do not need extra credit in order to show mastery. Students who show mastery on all assignments are demonstrating the equivalent of B level work on a traditional scale. Students may also choose to do additional assignments or additional work on assigned projects to demonstrate Exemplary achievement. This is the equivalent of A level work.