Auburn task force wants more parental input on proficiency-based learning

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AUBURN — The task force formed to look into concerns about proficiency-based learning met for the first time Tuesday and has asked for more feedback from parents.

Shelly Mogul, curriculum director for the Auburn School Department, said the department so far has received 350 responses from parents who have completed surveys seeking their input on proficiency-based learning, known as PBL.

Compared to past surveys, that is not bad, Mogul said. But several task force members asked for broader feedback from Auburn parents.

As a result, principals and teachers will send more information to parents about the survey, and the survey deadline has been pushed back to May 20 instead of May 17, Mogul said.

The survey is on the School Department’s web page: www.auburnschl.edu.

Mogul said preliminary feedback from surveys is trending for a return to traditional grades of 0-100, or A-F, for grades seven through 12. The majority so far is about 60 percent, so whatever decision is made, “somebody’s going to be unhappy,” Mogul said.

The task force set dates for its four future meetings and the deadline for when it will provide recommendations to the Auburn School Committee.

The meetings will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. at the library of Edward Little High School on May 24, May 31, June 5 and June 14.

“We have time-sensitive recommendations to make,” Mogul said.

If approved, the recommendations would be implemented in the fall.

Proficiency-based learning was created by a law passed by the Maine Legislature requiring high schools to use new standards for awarding diplomas. Instead of the traditional grades, students are assessed based on having mastered what they need in each subject.

This year’s ninth-graders are scheduled to be the first class to graduate with PBL diplomas. Proficiency-based learning’s grading system is based on a 1-4 scale, with 1 indicating lack of proficiency, 2 partial proficiency, 3 proficiency and 4 exceeding the standards.

Some parents and students have complained that the grades are confusing, that parents do not understand complicated progress reports and that some students do not study or complete school work because they know they can retake tests.

Some teachers have said proficiency-based learning is better for students because it provides clearer proof of what those students have learned.

Auburn proficiency-based learning survey

Auburn parents are being asked to provide feedback on proficiency-based learning in a survey from now until May 20.

Survey questions to parents include what kind of grading they support for students: A-F or 1-4.

The survey also asks for ideas or concerns about grading changes this year and suggestions for improvement.

The survey is online at the Auburn School Department’s web page: http://www.auburn.schl.edu

It is available at the main office of any city school or the Auburn school superintendent’s office.

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