LEWISTON — Lewiston High School Principal Linda MacKenzie on Monday outlined the new proficiency-based guidelines incoming freshmen must meet to graduate in 2018.

“Tonight’s session is not the end of the conversation,” MacKenzie told parents gathered at Lewiston Middle School. “It’s just the beginning.”

Speaking to about two dozen people, MacKenzie spoke about LD 1422, the law that mandates standards-based learning statewide.

One big difference in the new grading system will be the separation of academic standards from work habits. MacKenzie said the two will only be used in conjunction with determining sports eligibility.

“Sometimes, a student may get a failing grade because they do not do homework but they know the information and they pass the tests and quizzes,” MacKenzie said.

“In proficiency-based learning, the grade will be based on what the student knows and is able to do,” she said. “The work habits will also be recorded but it will not be the grade.”

Progress will be monitored via quizzes and assessments and the determination made for each student on whether they should move on in the subject or whether they need more practice. This method gives students and teachers the ability to revise, assess and reassess as needed.

For example, if a student fails an exam, they get a do-over or several do-overs until they pass or otherwise show some proficiency in that area.

Students will still earn credits to graduate.

Standards will be within the courses. For a student to earn ninth-grade English credits, they must meet ninth-grade English standards.

Students and parents will receive regular progress reports, although grades will not be entered until the end of the school year. Since students can keep working at proficiency, grades are not given until the end of the year.

The school will continue to use a semester calendar for semester and full-year classes.

Students are still expected to continue on with grade-level work.

Failed tests will not be averaged in final grades because students will be required to raise failing grades.

Grades will look different as well, reflecting a 4.0 scale similar to what colleges use. If a student drops below a “C,” or 3.0, they are put in the “not yet” category and must work their way out of those grades.

MacKenzie said she anticipates some students will struggle with the new system and several “safety nets” have been put in place.

Among the supports being established for students will be greater student access to teachers, with structured study halls staffed by teachers, special educators and English Language Learner staff.

An educational technician will be available to the freshman class and a freshman seminar will introduce students to the new world of greater freedom and greater responsibility.

Guidance counselors will work with each team at the school, broadening their knowledge of the students, their families and their unique circumstances.

Teachers will also be made available after school and students who are struggling will be highly encouraged to attend.

MacKenzie said there will also be more opportunities for accelerated learners with Honors Challenge English, where students are given the opportunity to go beyond the assignment.

Accelerated programs in math and languages will also be offered along with honors courses, advanced placement courses and college credit opportunities in grades 11 and 12.

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