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Reading levels have been a feature of literature study for centuries. Literary works have been "graded" (assigned levels) and sequenced for a very long time. Also, even a single, significant work, such as a work by Shakespeare, would be broken into levels, with the basic plot learned first, then later some memorization of important passages, then more analysis of the language, then a study of the historical events that formed the background of the story as well as the history that was taking place as Shakespeare was writing, then, with all of that in place, a consideration of the themes and subtle messages of the work and comparisons to other works.

Since the mastery approach paid such close attention to readiness, prerequisites were better thought out. The prerequisites for literature at a certain level were not merely lower levels of literature. They also included the study of history, languages (Latin first, then Greek), rhetoric, and so on.

There's no single, objectively correct sequence, even for STEM subjects. But a master teacher can learn from experience what should be learned first, and to what level, to make a student fully ready to learn any given thing. Then take many experienced masters, put them together, and have them carefully work out a prerequisite tree from which they derive a sequence of instruction.

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