SBE has convened a mastery-based (also known as competency-based) learning work group. The group, established in law, identifies barriers to mastery-based learning and explores ways to increase student access to relevant and robust academic pathways that are aligned to personal career and postsecondary goals. SBE’s latest report provides the work group’s vision for mastery-based learning in Washington, activities of the work group this year, preliminary findings, and areas for further exploration during 2020. A final report will be provided, detailing all findings and recommendations of the work group by December 1, 2020.

The state of Washington, through the mastery-based learning work group, is embarking on an exciting journey to reimagine our state’s education system. The work group believes that mastery-based learning (MBL) is a way to transform our education system—with this approach, teaching methods are designed to equitably engage each and every student in ways that best support the individual student’s learning journey. The key to MBL is the focus on the individual student and providing them an opportunity to receive an education experience tailored to their personal interests.

With an MBL approach, the learning process to demonstrate mastery of a skill or standard could follow the process in the accompanying graphic. In this process, students learn at their own pace, and learn from other students working on the same skills, reinforcing teamwork and good communication. Making mistakes and asking for help is part of the process, so students practice self-advocacy, resilience, and persistence in a safe and supportive environment. Within a well-developed system of MBL, both students and educators would have “the freedom to fail,” leading to learning and innovation.

Highlight activities this year: 

  • Webinar on mastery-based learning featuring South Carolina and Idaho representation 
  • High School and Beyond Plan presentation by Everett Public Schools
  • Presentations from Avanti High School, Gibson Ek High School, and Odyssey Middle School

Areas to explore next year: 

  • State testing and mastery-based learning
  • Mastery-based learning and the 24-credit requirement
  • Professional development support
  • Funding
  • Communications 
  • The High School and Beyond Plan