WALES — Regional School Unit 4 Superintendent Jim Hodgkin told directors Wednesday evening that he’s concerned about mandatory graduation standards and stricter teaching certification guidelines being considered by the Legislature.

Starting in 2018, high school students must demonstrate proficiency in eight area to receive their diplomas.  Besides math, language arts, science and social studies, students will be required to prove competency in health/physical education, visual and performing arts, foreign language, and career and educational development.

Hodgkin said these subjects should be offered by all public schools and students should have access to these subjects, but requiring a student to prove success in all eight areas is not realistic and “not what public schools should do.”

Instead, he thinks students should have the latter four subjects as electives so they can decide what interests them and whether they want to pursue those areas after they graduate.

Hodgkin said he’s also concerned about stricter teaching certification guidelines being considered by the Legislature and the impact it could have on hiring teachers. There is a huge shortage of teachers in all subject areas and requiring certification feels like a set-up for failure, he said.

The eight areas of proficiency will make hiring qualified teachers more challenging and “virtually impossible,” Hodgkin wrote in a letter to the Legislature.

He said he looks for an applicant with a four-year degree who knows their subject area, has the ability to relate to children and has the academic ability to teach. No certification can take the place of these traits, he said.

In closing, Hodgkin said RSU 4 is nowhere near where it wants to be and changes must be made to achieve success. A proficiency-based education is the right direction but not possible if this matter is combined with stricter hiring standards for teachers, he said.

State Reps. Kent Ackley, I-Monmouth, and Stephen Wood, R-Sabattus, and town officials from Sabattus and Wales attended the meeting.

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