Proficiency Based Education

Maine Public

Students in Maine will no longer be required to graduate under new, "proficiency-based" diplomas.

Gov. Paul LePage Friday signed a bill into law repealing the state's diploma mandate, which originally went into effect six years ago.

Under the old law, Maine students, beginning in the class of 2021, would have been required to reach "proficiency" in up to eight subject areas in order to graduate. However, teachers and parents criticized the policy, saying it was too demanding for educators and wouldn't allow some students to graduate.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

Over the course of the past school year, we've followed the implementation of Maine’s proficiency-based diploma law through the lens of students and staffers at Oak Hill High School, near Lewiston. 

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

This year's class of high school freshmen will be the first to graduate with a new kind of diploma three years from now in Maine. To get it, they will have to show proficiency in a number of subjects. We've been following the transition to this new system at a small rural high school near Lewiston in a series we're calling, "Lessons from Oak Hill."

One of the most controversial changes has been replacing the traditional A-through-F grading system, and pushback from critics has already led some districts to respond.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

The legislature may have adjourned Thursday morning, but some educators and parents still have hope that the House and Senate will eventually act on a bill removing a state mandate for schools to implement "proficiency-based diplomas." It is unclear what effects such a change would have on local schools.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public/file

Maine's transition to "proficiency-based" high school diplomas is under increasing scrutiny from parents, educators - and now, lawmakers.  The state Department of Education is proposing a bill that it says would repeal pieces of the law and grant more flexibility to local districts. 

Oak Hill High School Principal Marco Aliberti works with a student in English class as part of a revamped course structure in the school.
Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

Beginning this year, high school freshmen in Maine have to work toward a new kind of "proficiency-based" diploma. Under the new requirement, students must be "proficient" in a number of subjects by the time they reach their senior year. Reaching the standards is a tall order.

Proficiency Based Education

Aug 15, 2016
https://www.flickr.com/photos/wwworks/

Maine's schools have been adopting the Proficiency-Based Education model and are at varying stages with implementing this new system of teaching and grading based on meeting standards. How is it going? What are the pros and cons?

Guests:

Betsy Webb, superintendent, Bangor School Department [from Bangor studio]

Tina Meserve, superintendent, RSU 16 (Poland)

Erika Stump, research associate, Center for Education Policy, Applied Research and Evaluation at the University of Southern Maine