Mastery Education ensures all students have access to a learner-centered experience where success is the only option.

Mastery education gives students the chance to use meaningful content in ways that encourage deeper levels of learning so they acquire the knowledge, skills, and characteristics essential for success in a future we can only imagine. When students demonstrate that they are proficient under rigorous expectations, they take greater ownership and responsibility for learning. This helps educators and students to move beyond misleading assumptions about learning that are based strictly on points, percentages, and grades.

Mastery Education aims for human excellence, consisting of the following elements:

  • Equity in Learning: Each student experiences a flexible pace and path to achieve mastery
  • Meta-Learning: Students learn how to to learn
  • Expertise: Students master core academic content
  • Students think critically and solve complex problems
  • Students communicate effectively
  • Students work collaboratively
  • Students possess an “academic mindset”


Idaho school districts implementing Mastery Education have adapted grading policies to reflect evidence of student learning.

Generally speaking, professional learning teams within a district or school work together to review student work and determine mastery of content and skills using grading policies that incorporate rubrics for expectations. Specific rubrics and grading policies can vary from district to district, accommodating the varying needs of different schools and communities.

Universally across all schools, students are involved in the reflection process to determine evidence of learning.

Each student’s experience is based on a “competency framework.” In a Mastery Education setting, learners can describe the skills and knowledge they are working toward, and how that learning meaningfully connects to their own lives and futures.

Learners can also locate themselves on a developmental spectrum of specific skills and knowledge, justify their location on that spectrum, and describe what they are working toward achieving.

Learners can articulate the connections between the skills and knowledge they are developing, and the performance-based assessments they are working on. They can also articulate how each of these relate to the world and/or specific postsecondary pathways.

Learners can describe the work they are conducting and the portfolio of work they have completed, and explain how that work relates to their learning goals.

Classroom Experience

Learners participate in a range of different learning techniques (teacher-facilitated, small group, individual, conferencing) and flexible groupings with other students based on their specific goals or needs.

Learners are regularly engaged in crafting, leading, and sharing the results of their inquiry, and can articulate their experiences: how they make connections and build background knowledge, how they engage in deep investigation, the process of synthesizing information and reflecting; and finally, the creation of work products or performances to demonstrate Mastery.

Learners have ongoing opportunities to build strong relationships with adults, including parents and educators, who will continue to be formally engaged in their learning.

Learners access their learning data in real time, and can take a leading role in discussing, reflecting, and evaluating their work status relative to their goals.

Learners have a range of meaningful choices within units of study. Those choices are designed to make the curriculum relevant to the  individual student, foster the student’s self-regulatory abilities, and support interest-based learning and career exploration.

Students have regular and varied opportunities to learn key cognitive (thinking) and metacognitive (awareness of thinking) skills and strategies. Students have sufficient time to practice and apply new skills and strategies in both group and independent settings.

Student-led experiences help learners take ownership of their own learning and connect that learning with their lives, interests, goals, communities, and futures.


Learners advance at their own optimal pace, as they demonstrate—and as educators capture–key evidence of learning. Students’ learning needs are promptly identified by educators so that students can move at their own optimal pace.

Learners regularly reflect on their learning data and process, celebrating their own growth and their classmates’ growth. Mastery Education classrooms focus on growth, and help students develop and demonstrate positive persistence through challenges and obstacles.

Students access their learning data in real time, and can take a leading role in discussing, reflecting, and evaluating their work status relative to their goals.

Special Circumstances

Each student possesses a unique combination of strengths and needs. In a perfect world, each and every student would have an individualized education plan (IEP). Mastery-based education moves Idaho’s students closer than ever to this reality.

Students participate in a range of different learning modes (teacher-facilitated, small group, individual, conferencing) and flexible groupings based on their specific goals or needs.

Learners can identify the specific skills they are developing and make clear connections between target skills and the activities or tasks they are currently working on.

Learners regularly confer with teachers and others to evaluate progress, give/receive feedback, and identify actionable next steps for their work.

Educators work to help learners feel safe and connected in the learning community. Students in a Mastery Education classroom can describe ways in which their culture and community are valued in the learning environment.

You likely still have questions about your child’s specific needs. Because every student and every situation is different, we recommend directing those questions to your child’s educators. This FAQ page includes a list of questions to help get the conversation started.

Questions for your School

  • How have this school’s teachers been re-trained to accommodate this new system? 
  • How can I support my child best in this new environment? How does my role as a parent change? 
  • How does my child need to be prepared to start school? 
  • How will I be kept up to date on my student’s progress, including any challenges my student may be facing?
  • If we move, how will my child’s skills transfer to a school that hasn’t adopted Mastery Education? 
  • My student has an IEP. What does this mean for him?  
  • My student has been identified as gifted or high achieving. What does this mean for her?
  • What happens if my child is struggling to master a concept? How will she get caught up?