Academics » Mastery Based Learning @ AFSE

Mastery Based Learning @ AFSE

What is Mastery-based learning?

Mastery-based learning represents the transformation of our education system from a time-based system to a learning-based system. Mastery-based learning is being used at all ages from elementary school to graduate school level, focusing the attention of teachers, students, parents, and the broader community on students mastering measurable learning topics. High-quality mastery-based learning:


  • Students advance upon mastery
  • Mastery skills and content include explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives that empower students
  • Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students
  • Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs
  • Learning outcomes emphasize mastery skills and content that include application and creation of knowledge, along with the development of important skills and dispositions

Mastery skill:  A personal ability that allows a student to independently achieve a high leverage goal. The goal should be related to Regents success and College/Career readiness. This skill takes time and practice to develop - at least the length of a unit. The skill can be performed at varying levels of cognitive rigor using Webb’s Depth of Knowledge. 

Example:  Use a compass and straightedge to bisect given segments and angles 

(Geometry Mastery Skill, Unit 1) 

Strategy: Although it can often be confused with a skill, a strategy is an overall approach to using all resources to achieve a learning goal. 

Example: Annotation is a close-reading strategy that can help a student achieve the larger 

learning goal of reading for information. 


Levels of Mastery

Across AFSE, we have adopted a common language to communicate levels of mastery to students and their families. To ensure we are providing students with rigorous learning opportunities, we have aligned each level of mastery with a Depth of Knowledge level with the understanding that students are exposed to the highest level of rigor within each unit.

Culturally Responsive Teaching at AFSE
"Culturally responsive-sustaining (CR-S) education is grounded in a cultural view of learning and human development in which multiple expressions of diversity (e.g., race, social class, gender, language, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, ability) are recognized and regarded as assets for teaching and learning" (NYC DOE Culturally Responsive Framework).
The New York State guidelines for culturally responsive sustaining education are grounded in a VISION of an education system that creates: 
  • Students who experience academic success
  • Students who are sociopolitically conscious and socioculturally responsive
  • Students who have a critical lens through which they challenge inequitable systems of access, power, and privilege.
Sources for definitions:  The Difference between Learning Strategies and Skills (2013); Understanding by Design (2005); CompetencyWorks (2012); Defining and Measuring College and Career Readiness (2015); NYCDOE College and Career Readiness Domains (2015); University of New Mexico Teacher & Educational Development (2005)