Recent Sun Journal articles about proficiency-based education and learning caught my attention. I am a big believer in this newer teaching model and I am excited that schools are implementing it.

Although I am not a teacher or trained in the field of education (and I certainly appreciate teachers’ expertise and value the jobs they do every day), as the owner of Pedro O’Hara’s in Lewiston, I have experienced how difficult it can be for employers to find workers with the skills we need. If this skills gap is not addressed, Maine businesses will not be able to continue to succeed, much less grow.

Proficiency-based education helps close the skills gap because it teaches students some of the key “deeper learning” skills employers need, such as critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration. The deeper learning skills students gain in proficiency-based education will improve their chances of success, no matter what they choose after high school.

Additionally, students are measured on their work habits, a predictor of success in any workplace. It also isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” approach to education. It helps make sure kids who learn differently don’t get left behind. This is important for the future opportunity and success of all Maine children.

If Maine is to do right by its youth and make sure they can succeed in the workplaces of the future and make sure Maine employers can compete and succeed economically, the public must not only stay the course on proficiency-based learning, but embrace it fully.

Bill Welch, Auburn

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