ProbLem 1: Time
Problem 2: Learning gaps
Another problem our Accelerated Math Lab solves is learning gaps, or a lack of true mastery. In a traditional classroom, time is fixed, and the variable is the number of students who will achieve mastery in the given time. Students are given a specific amount of time to learn the material and pass the test. For students struggling with a concept or skill, the content moves on the following week, and they either have to play catch-up or become totally lost. For math classes at MSGA, this is flipped. Mastery becomes fixed, and the variable is the amount of time it takes each student to get to mastery. Because math continually builds on itself, a mastery-based program ensures students build lasting understanding. In our Accelerated Math Lab, students still take tests at the end of the unit, but they only progress to the following unit when they are ready. If they do not show mastery on any part of the unit test, they go back and review necessary skills before advancing to the next unit. This also enables students to accelerate quickly through the content as they achieve mastery, providing a feeling of freedom for gifted learners. One would think mastering mathematical concepts would be a critical part of any math program, but unfortunately that’s not the case, and many students move to more challenging content without the prerequisite skills necessary to be successful.