The Architecture of Understanding

A Focus on Personalized Learning:

To bring an end to learning poverty, we believe that education systems will need to engage in radical change. A vital paradigm shift will need to happen. One that replaces standardized learning with personalized learning. 

The problem with Standardized learning

Standardized learning has proficiency as its major goal. Proficiency is a “systems metric.” It tells a story about the quality of an education system or a school. 

Proficiency measures the percentage of children who achieve a specific composite benchmark score on a set of standardized assessments. These are summative tests with questions that are drawn from content delivered along a linear curriculum scope and sequence. 

But proficiency reveals little about the depth to which a child has truly absorbed what they have been taught. It is opaque regarding where the system might be failing the child at any given point or time. 

In high-stakes education systems, proficiency incentivizes educators to cover as broad a breadth of content as possible, to ensure children have at least some exposure to every concept they might encounter on their final exam. 

The opportunity in Mastery Learning

Mastery learning, by contrast, tells a story about the relationship between a specific child and a specific skill. It is a learner-centric metric. 

Mastery measures whether a learner has gained a sufficiently thorough grasp of knowledge and strong command of skill to perform and complete associated learning activities at a high level without help. 

It is a discovery process, not a frenzied race across a linear scope and sequence. Instead, mastery is a journey across a knowledge map of skills and learning activities. 

A process guided by a tutor and supported by scaffolding, but driven and negotiated by each learner, in their own time and at their own pace. 

Learners move on to a new area of skill only after they have established strong foundations on the one that comes before. 

Mastery therefore encourages educators to prioritize depth in learning over breadth. 

Paradoxically, children who achieve depth in mastery learning with each skill can cover great breadth in what they learn. This is because their learning is grounded on a robust Architecture of Understanding™. 

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