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Students and the certificate of initial mastery: Perceptions, feelings, and responses

1 June 1998


The purpose of this qualitative study was to answer a few key questions: 1) What happens when sophomore global studies students are given CIM tasks? 2) How do sophomore global studies students feel when given ClM tasks? 3) How well do students understand ClM standards? 4) How do sophomore Global Studies students feel about ClM standards? And 5) How often are ClM tasks a part of sophomore Global Studies classroom work? My research addresses the changes that have been made in the state of Oregon education system since 1991. The changes have been attempting to implement a standards based mastery learning system of education. My research took place at an urban high school located in the Portland, Oregon. The school is part of the overall education reform process for the state of Oregon and is considered to be advanced in their stage of implementing the reforms. The participants were one sophomore Global Studies class in which I was a student teacher. Information was gathered during the time that a key element of the new reforms, the Certificate of Initial Mastery task, was given. I observed the process, handed out questionnaires, and interviewed focus students. In order to protect privacy and anonymity pseudonyms are used for all participants in this study. After collecting and organizing field notes, interviews, and questionnaire responses, various patterns emerged in the way students experienced and perceived the Certificate of Initial Mastery and education reform in general. My research revealed that the incomplete nature and sudden implementation of the reform is having a negative effect on students' abilities to successfully adjust to the reform. And that students, while recognizing the importance of the reform, have a negative impression of the reform. because of the high stakes nature of it and the variation of interpretation of the reform among teachers.


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