How Can Mastery Rival Tutoring and Close Educational Gaps Caused by the Pandemic? | Jon Bergmann | 6 Min Read

March 12, 2021

Schools closed. Remote learning. Exhausted teachers. The pandemic has had a huge impact on schools around the world. Perhaps the biggest issue we face now and going forward is the impact of learning loss and learning gaps caused by the pandemic. According to a paper by Libby Pier and others, they reached two key conclusions about the results of the pandemic on education:

  1. There has been significant learning loss in both English Language Arts (ELA) and Math, with students in earlier grades most affected.
  2. The equity impact is severe — certain student groups, especially low-income students and English language learners (ELLs), are falling behind more compared to others.

They summarized it in the graph below:

COVID-19 and the Educational Equity Crisis | PACE

The big question is how do we teach in light of the growing learning loss, especially with some of our most vulnerable students. Is there a way that we can reach students of a wide variety of ability levels in the same classroom? How can we catch students up? How can we work with such a wide range of comprehension and mastery?

Semi-Asynchronous Mastery Learning

In 2012 I co-wrote the book, Flip Your Classroom with Aaron Sams. In the second half of the book, we talked about how we merged Flipped Learning with Mastery Learning and dubbed it Flipped-Mastery Learning. Since that time, thousands of teachers worldwide have implemented the Flipped-Mastery model with great success. Though it has many iterations, the basics of it remain the same. 

  • Students move through the curriculum at a flexible pace, and at the end of each unit of study, they are assessed. 
  • If they have mastered the curriculum, then they can move on to the next topic. 
  • If not, they don’t move on. For those students who don’t demonstrate mastery, they get remediation and then retake the summative assessment. They do this until mastery. 

Mastery Learning isn’t a new concept. Doctors have to pass the Board Exam, lawyers the Bar Exam, and most of us took a driver’s test. All of these are examples of mastery learning. But how can the average teacher implement this when they teach 30 students per class and six classes a day?  What overwhelms most isn’t the concept of mastery; it is the logistics of implementing it on a day-by-day basis.  


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Jon Bergmann

Jon Bergmann is one of the pioneers of the Flipped Class Movement. Jon is leading the worldwide adoption of flipped learning by working with governments, schools, corporations, and education non-profits. Jon is coordinating or guiding flipped learning initiatives around the globe including China, Taiwan, Korea, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, the Middle East, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Canada, South America, and the United States. Jon is the author of 10 books including the bestselling book: Flip Your Classroom which has been translated into 10 languages. He has been an educator since 1986. He has served as a middle and high school science teacher, the lead technology facilitator for a school district in the Chicago suburbs, as well as a consultant/public speaker. He currently is teaching science and leading staff development at Houston Christian High School.