FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 administrators held a community forum Tuesday to give parents, students, staff and community members the chance to share thoughts and concerns about proficiency-based learning standards.

Nearly 100 people attended the forum, which included discussion groups and a question-and-answer session with a panel of education administrators and college admissions representatives.

RSU 9 Superintendent Tina Meserve explained the forum format was designed to allow open participation, while capturing the thoughts, strengths and challenges regarding proficiency-based learning.

“We are asking you to share perspectives, both positive and critical,” Meserve said. “We want this to be a safe place to speak. We are united around one thing, and that is the education of our children.”

In 2012, a state law established graduation standards based on students’ proficiency. The law went into effect in 2017, affecting last year’s freshmen.

On July 22, the law was repealed to allow school administration units to choose between continuing proficiency-based learning or traditional grading requirements.

Meserve said several proficiency-based learning obstacles were identified at the end of the school year. Solutions have been put in place, including requiring assessments to include education plans and implementing procedures for reassessment and late work.

Addressing concerns about differences in transcripts for college admissions, Sam Pelletier, an assistant director of admissions at Colby College in Waterville, said transcripts were not uniform. He noted students with proficiency-based learning transcripts fare as well in the admission process as students with traditional transcripts.

“We review individual candidates, recommendations, essay abilities and interviews,” Pelletier said. “Context is everything when reading an application.”

Meserve said continuing ongoing conversations with staff and additional training were vital.

“A lot the issues we are facing with (proficiency-based education), we are facing with education in general,” she said. “We want kids to know we are there for them and want to give them new opportunities to succeed.”

Meserve noted she was unsure which system would be in place when school starts on August 29.

“I have a lot of concerns about making changes prior to rule-making and without staff in session,” Meserve said. “I don’t know any schools making changes at this time.”

Meserve said a recommendation on proficiency-based learning would be made to the RSU 9 board of directors following a review of data, forum discussions and staff input.

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RSU 9 Superintendent Tina Meserve (Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal file photo)

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