1) Think the mastery-based system is an abject failure (if your priority is coverage of the curriculum), or
2) Still hold out hope, if not.
But I thought I should balance that last post with some additional info. that suggests another reason to "hold out hope."
1) I forgot to mention that, while I'm several weeks behind where I was last time I taught the course (2 years ago), I am only a week or two behind my colleagues teaching the same course (with traditional methods) this year.
2) More importantly, I thought I'd compare student performance across the years, and threw in a previous year for good measure. First, there's the grade distribution:
Note the blue line is this year: mastery-based, project-based, and differentiated, with a no zero policy.
In 2013, I had begun the project-based, differentiated approach, but without the mastery and no zero components.
In 2012, I ran it as a traditional course.
Maybe it's obvious--give kids second (and third) chances, more interesting work, and more time, and they succeed at a higher rate. But keep in mind: the mastery, "no zero" model also includes the requirement that they must do all of the assignments and meet a minimum standard on each one. There are no opt-outs (zeros) allowed.
In the first semester this year, my students completed a total of 8 projects, each taking several days, 14 video quizzes and shorter assignments, 8 labs, plus tests, quizzes, and other assorted tasks.
So is the bar lower or higher?
And what's the point of the "bar" anyway? Isn't the point to see them learn how to learn, master the material, and value hard work and quality and perseverance?
Is school just some sort of filter--a gateway or obstacle designed to keep certain kids from passing through to a productive and happy life, or is it a springboard to make sure they all do?