How do we measure multiplication mastery? Is it about memorizing a small grid of times tables answers? If so, would a grid of up to 10x10 really constitute mastery, or would that accolade only apply for those who manage to memorize the answers from a 12x12 times tables? Or perhaps it should be held back for those succeeding up to 20x20 or 100x100?
No! I don't think multiplication mastery is about memorization at all. That would be memorization mastery, but not multiplication mastery. It would be useful for parlour tricks like memorizing shuffled packs of playing cards. But mutiplication is a skill in itself. After all, we didn't master addition by memorizing the answers to a bunch of addition problems did we? If we had, we would likely be able to handle addition problems like 7+8 yet be totally incapable of solving problems like 72+15 in our heads, and would be totally dependent on a pocket calculator for such heady problems.
In recent years, many people have challenged how appropriate it is to attempt to learn the times tables up to 12x12. Some prefer to limit the learning objective to 10x10 often citing decimalization as the reason for this, without speaking out the truth which underlies their motivation, being a preference to dumb-down the learning objective as it is then easier to accomplish.
On the other hand, those who value the ability to multiply (typically those who are comfortable themselves and often fail to see the problem through other people's eyes) suggest raising the bar to empower students with skills based on enlarging the times tables to cover up to 20x20 or even 100x100. This kind of goal cries out for a skill-based approach, rather than memorization of number facts.