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Schools get mastery-based learning grants

by R. HANS MILLER
Staff Writer | February 1, 2022 1:00 AM

The Washington State Board of Education (SBE) recently an­nounced the award of tens of thousands of dollars in funding for mastery-based learning programs to 14 Washington school districts, including those serving Quincy and Moses Lake.

“What it basically is entailing is really building some systems in place for our students to make sure they have the opportunities to have colleges look at mastery-based learning as a competitive enrollment piece, and also to make sure they have a portfolio ready to go that demonstrates their mastery in their subject areas,” said Quincy Innovation Academy Principal Kathie Brown.

The awards, announced Jan. 20, are for a three-year term with the first year of funding providing $40,000 to each of the respective districts for their innovative education programs. While QSD will allocate the funding to the Innovation Academy, MLSD has the funding earmarked for its newest campus, Vanguard Academy, according to a statement from the SBE.

MLSD Spokesperson Claren McLaughlin confirmed the money will go to Vanguard, but it is too early in the planning process to identify exactly how the funding will be spent.

Mastery-based learning involves a new approach in which students help direct their learning by choosing which knowledge, skills and interests they pursue in a manner that fits the way they learn, according to the SBE’s website. Students make interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary connections and apply their skills to real-world problems. Students receive instruction based on their learning preferences and goals, as well as required core competencies. Students then demonstrate the mastery over skills they’ve learned by creating portfolios of work, projects, testing and other demonstrations.

Neither school district was told how much funding will be provided in subsequent years for the grant, but officials said they were grateful for the state’s support of mastery-based learning.

Both districts went through a grant application process, which Brown said was comprehensive. It involved a written application and an interview with an SBE representative. Brown said she and two of her teaching staff participated in the interview process.

The Quincy program serves sixth through 12th grades while the MLSD program will serve freshmen through senior classes at Vanguard Academy.

The implementation of the plan should be relatively quick for Quincy, Brown said.

“(QSD has) hired a consultant agency to work with us. That happened last month, and so now we’re ready to roll in building our plan and moving forward,” Brown said.

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