NYC schools find success using mastery-based education to bridge equity gaps

In New York City, one of the nation’s most segregated school systems, 37 schools have turned to mastery-based education because the model's emphasis on feedback and revision seems well-suited to the challenge of improving equity in a diverse population, according to the Hechinger Report.A Hechinger Report analysis of Department of Education data indicated that 29 of the 37 schools “either meet the city’s current standard of a racially representative school or reflect (within five percentage points) their borough’s demographic makeup for at least two ethnic groups,” and schools like the Urban Assembly Maker Academy have seen 90% graduation rates and above-citywide-average college readiness rates. There are critics within the system, however, who say the approach is a “paradigm-shift” for many educators and who feel that other educational methods can also create a culturally responsive learning environment with the right effort. Mastery-based education is catching on in many schools across the nation because it is a more personalized approach to learning that allows students to master concepts at their own pace. For schools wanting to address equity issues in a diverse setting, the model also allows students to have more control over their learning since they are essentially competing with themselves rather than with other students who may have academic advantages not available to them.

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