THE TRADITIONAL TIME-BASED SYSTEM OF EDUCATION, where advancement is based largely on seat time rather than the true acquisition of skills and knowledge, has become inadequate for meeting the needs of all students. Credits, advancement, and diplomas that are based on seat time, barely passing grades, or a tenuous command of subject material create mixed messages for students and families.

Mastery Education challenges and changes how students are taught in the following ways:

  • Learning is tailored to a student’s strengths and interests
  • Students learn at their own, optimal pace
  • Students demonstrate mastery of individual skills throughout the process of learning about a subject
  • Teachers will have the tools to meet each student where they are in the learning process
  • Diplomas will truly represent that a graduate is prepared with the knowledge and skills to succeed after graduation
Idaho Mastery Education Students.


DESIGNED TO SERVE THE NEEDS of students in every community, the implementation of Mastery Education allows for a great deal of local input and customization. Administrators and teachers are afforded flexibility and latitude; current Mastery Education schools and classrooms are taking advantage of such flexibility to innovate effective teaching practices. Schools may change classroom design or school schedules, and introduce new classroom tools and technology to give teachers the support they need to help all students achieve mastery.

A founding cohort of 32 schools across the state are leading the implementation of Mastery Education in their own communities:

American Heritage Charter  Blaine County School District: Silver Creek High School

Bonneville School District: Rocky Mountain Middle School

Coeur d’Alene School District: Venture High School

Kuna School District: Initial Point High School, Kuna Middle School, Ross Elementary, Fremont Middle School

Lake Pend Oreille School District: Clark Fork Jr/Sr High School

Meadows Valley School District

Meridian Technical Charter High School

Middleton School District: Middleton Academy

Moscow School District: All Schools

Nampa School District: Columbia High School, Greenhurst Elementary, Union High School

North Valley Academy Charter

Notus School District

Salmon School District: Salmon Jr/Sr High School

Three Creek School District

Vallivue School District: Rivervue Middle School

West Ada School District: Central Academy, Eagle Academy, Meridian Academy

Wilder School District


  1. When the Governor’s Task Force for Improving Education was convened in 2012, the diverse, 30-member group of stakeholders met for 8 months and ultimately delivered 20 recommendations. At the top of the list was a call for transitioning the state’s public education system to Mastery Education.
  2. The Legislature passed enabling legislation and funding for Mastery Education in 2015 and shortly thereafter 19 districts or schools raised their hands to pioneer Mastery Education in Idaho.
  3. The Idaho Mastery Education Network was created to give teachers the tools and training they needed to successfully implement Mastery Education in their classrooms. The Network meets regularly to share experiences and best practices—such interaction among teachers is a key component of Mastery Education.

—H110, passed by the

Idaho Legislature in 2015

Notus Elementary is a Title I school that has seen increased student achievement scores (including ISAT, MAP, and IRI), as well as decreased behavioral incidents (documented in Silverback Learning) and overall greater student engagement (as observed by teachers), since implementing Mastery Education. Notus teachers foster reflective learners and thinkers by requiring students to maintain Evidence Binders and Effort Meters, where students reflect on their learning and effort daily. The school’s shift to Standards Based Grading offers clear, transparent communication regarding student growth and achievement to both students and parents.

West Ada School District’s Mastery Education model, implemented with 500 students at three academies, has resulted in a noticeable shift in student culture and fundamentally different conversations with students. In this system, the barriers of time and inflexible schedules are replaced by personalized, on-demand instruction and mentoring by “generalist” or “specialist” teachers. Using the Likert Scale Engagement Survey, WASD determined that after just one year of Mastery Education, students were reporting significantly higher levels of motivation, transactional engagement, and institutional support. In addition, behavior incidents decreased significantly.

Venture High School in Coeur d’Alene serves at-risk students who enter the school having been on a trajectory for academic failure and/or dropping out. Among other promising results, in its first year of Mastery Education, Venture saw ISAT scores grow from 734 to 843, with an accompanying increase in students’ interest in college or other post-secondary education options.

At Rocky Mountain Middle School in Idaho Falls, every student in the “Fusion Classroom” program—which families opted into— mastered all power focus areas in all four content areas, during the first year of Mastery Education. In the Fusion Classrooms, collaborative tables replace desks to facilitate project-based and collaborative learning. In year one, many students went on to earn high school credit for core classes while they were still in middle school. The school saw improvement in ISAT and MAP scores and attendance at parent-teacher conferences was significantly higher for the Mastery Education cohort.