I am a research psychologist concerned about Maine’s Proficiency Based Education model that replaced traditional A-F grading in many Maine schools.

Recently, 90 RSU 9 teachers and parents were surveyed. The vast majority (84 percent) reported the new grading system was imprecise, anxiety-producing and demotivating. Teachers and parents cited the replacement of the A-F grading system with an imprecise 1-4 proficiency scale as being hugely problematic.

Alarmingly, under PBE, students regularly earn a 3 for a perfect performance on a math or vocabulary test (“meets standard”) on a 4-point scale. Parents say there is no longer an incentive (or a pathway) to excel.

The “work at your own pace” centerpiece is a recipe for student procrastination and crushing workloads for teachers at the end of each grading period. Summer school attendance more than doubled once PBE was instituted. On July 17, 13 parents and students expressed their dissatisfaction at the RSU 9 school board meeting. No one spoke in favor.

Published research on PBE outcomes shows no evidence of improvements — whether in test scores, post-high school work performance, college performance, or student well-being. In fact, a recent report showed Maine districts with the longest-running PBE programs show a drop in mathematics proficiency scores.

Sadly, many years of effort have gone into preparing for PBE. However, now that the mandate has been legally repealed, I hope school systems can discontinue this failing experiment on Maine students.

Parents should communicate their feelings about PBE to their school board members.

Karol Maybury, Wilton

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