The Sun Journal’s series about proficiency-based learning has been very interesting. I have one question for Superintendent William Zima who thinks that PBL is very successful. How many students are meeting the state expectations in English, math and science? The Maine Educational Assessments measure the progress of students. Last year, MEA reported that Zima’s district RSU2 met the state expectations as follows: English arts/literacy, 52.05 percent; math, 32.83 percent; and science, 58.92 percent (Maine DOE/Public reporting). Proficiency-based learning started in 2012. It is not working.

Then I read in the Sun Journal (April 15) about the teacher at Edward Little High School who was teaching his civics class that the Constitution is a living document and made sure they knew about protesting and discouraged memorization. Now I understand why students are not successful. When I see performers sing the National Anthem and can’t remember the words, I bet they didn’t memorize the words.

Zima says that the expectations are clear. The expectations are not clear when each school gets to define what proficiencies are and what a diploma means. There needs to be consistency through state leadership from the Department of Education instead of each school reinventing the wheel.

Unshackle teachers and students who are mired in testing and data collection. Say “no” to proficiency-based learning and see real success.

Diana Holcomb, Norway

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