RSU 9 leadership team developing standards for proficiency-based diploma

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FARMINGTON — Students entering seventh grade on Monday in Regional School Unit 9 will be the first class to graduate from Mt. Blue High School with a proficiency-based diploma in 2021.

A district leadership team made up of administrators at several levels and teachers at the high school have met nearly every Tuesday this summer to develop revised standards and create rubrics for proficiency-based education, continuing the work they started months ago. 

Initially, the state had planned to have students earn proficiency-based diplomas in 2018, but because of the amount of work involved, the Department of Education allowed school districts to seek extensions to get the work done.

RSU 9 was granted an extension until 2021, Assistant Superintendent Leanne Condon said. She is also the director of curriculum for the school district.

The new diploma will affect the high school first, so the team is working on the standards students will need to accomplish for graduation.

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Proficiency-based education refers to any system of academic instruction, assessment, grading and reporting that is based on students demonstrating mastery of the knowledge and skills they are expected to learn before they progress to the next lesson, get promoted to the next grade level or receive a diploma,” according to the Department of Education website at maine.gov/doe.

“The general goal of proficiency-based education is to ensure that students acquire the knowledge and skills that are deemed to be essential to success in school, higher education, careers and adult life. If students struggle to meet minimum expected standards, they receive additional instruction, practice time and academic support to help them achieve proficiency, but they do not progress in their education until expected standards are met,” according to the DOE.

Standards are being developed for each content area.

“We really have always taught to standards, but now they are developing specific standards,” she said. “Standards are the backbone of our curriculum.”

They will be reporting out on actual knowledge the students have compared to the standards, she said.

“We are in the process of creating parent input groups at Mt. Blue Middle School and at Mt. Blue (High School) campus and working to involve students and community members as we move toward proficiency-based education,” Condon said.

Educators plan to make sure students and parents understand the standards that are being developed and that it is the right progression of standards to graduate from Mt. Blue High School with a proficiency-based diploma, she said.

dperry@sunmediagroup.net

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