30045658 - Volume 19 Number 1 Fall 2007 pp. 831 Closing...

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8 Volume 19 Number 1 Fall 2007 pp. 8–31 d Closing Achievement Gaps: Revisiting Benjamin S. Bloom’s “Learning for Mastery” Thomas R. Guskey Georgetown College Disparities or “gaps” in the achievement levels of diFerent groups of students have concerned political and educational leaders for decades. President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” in the 1960s focused on inequities in the educational achievement of economically disadvantaged students and their more advantaged counterparts. Te Economic Opportunity Act (EOA) of 1964, which established the Head Start program, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, which created the ±itle I and ²ollow Trough programs, were speci³c attempts to address these gaps in educational attainment. More recently, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB; 2001) legislation revived these concerns. Tis law requires schools to report achievement results separately for various poverty, eth- nicity, language, and disability subgroups. If achievement gaps among these diFerent subgroups of students are identi³ed, then schools must take speci³c steps to close them. Over the years, researchers have learned a great deal about identifying and reducing these achievement disparities. One of the most important contributors to that knowledge base was Benjamin S. Bloom (Guskey, 2006). Although known primarily for his pioneering work developing the Taxonomy of Educational
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Copyright © 2007 Prufrock Press, P.O. Box 8813, Waco, TX 76714 summary Guskey, T. R. (2007). Closing the achievement gap: Revisiting Benjamin S. Bloom’s “learn- ing for mastery.” Journal of Advanced Academics, 19 , 8–31. The problem of achievement gaps among different subgroups of stu- dents has been evident in education for many years. This manuscript revisits the work of renowned educator Benjamin S. Bloom, who saw reducing gaps in the achievement of various groups of students as a simple problem of reducing variation in student learning outcomes. Bloom observed that teaching all students in the same way and giving all the same time to learn—that is, providing little variation in the instruc- tion—typically results in great variation in student learning. Students for whom the instructional methods and amount of time are appropriate learn well, and those for whom the methods and time are less appropri- ate learn less well. Bloom believed that all students could be helped to reach a high criterion of learning if both the instructional methods and time were varied to better match students’ individual learning needs. In other words, to reduce variation in the achievement of diverse groups of students and have all students learn well, Bloom argued that educa- tors and teachers must increase variation in instructional approaches and learning time. Bloom labeled the strategy to accomplish this instruc- tional variation and differentiation mastery learning . Research evidence shows that the positive effects of mastery learning are not limited to cog- nitive or achievement outcomes. The process also yields improvements
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This note was uploaded on 10/07/2009 for the course EDP 300 taught by Professor West during the Spring '09 term at West Chester.

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30045658 - Volume 19 Number 1 Fall 2007 pp. 831 Closing...

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