During the transition to a proficiency-based system of teaching and learning, districts and schools will need to review and possibly revise existing policies, while also creating new policies that address emerging models, practices, and learning experiences.
The following district policy exemplar on proficiency-based education can be adapted to suit local needs and contexts. The Great Schools Partnership encourages state agencies, nonprofit organizations, districts, and schools to use or revise our policies for noncommercial purposes in the public interest.
Western Mountains Regional School District
The Western Mountains Regional School District is committed to preparing all students to be informed, successful, and contributing citizens, workers, leaders, innovators, and problem-solvers who are ready to pursue their interests and aspirations in the colleges, careers, and communities of the 21st century. All students enrolled in the district’s schools will have access to a challenging curriculum and instructional strategies that promote high expectations, improve educational performance, and maximize engagement inside and outside the classroom. The Board believes that all students must be exposed a variety of engaging learning opportunities, and we expect our schools to develop an array of learning pathways that hold every student to high educational standards.
From prekindergarten through twelfth grade, the district’s schools will develop systems of education built on the principles of proficiency-based education, and the design of curriculum, instruction, assessment, grading, and academic reporting will allow all students to demonstrate that they have learned the knowledge, skills, and work habits they are expected to acquire as they progress through their education. Our schools will use the state’s learning standards—the Maine Learning Results—to determine academic expectations and proficiency levels in a given course, learning experience, subject area, or grade level.
Proficiency-based standards, principles, and practices will guide our teachers as they work to ensure that each student acquires the knowledge, skills, and work habits that are essential to success in school, higher education, careers, and adult life. To achieve these high expectations, and ultimately an East High School diploma, the district’s schools will offer all necessary or recommended academic support—in the form of interventions and extensions—to help all students demonstrate proficiency and meet expected learning standards. Students who exceed required levels of proficiency will be provided increasingly challenging coursework and learning opportunities offered both inside and outside of the school.
A. Principles of Proficiency-Based Education
The following principles will guide the district’s approach to proficiency-based education, promotion, and graduation:
- All learning expectations will be clearly and consistently communicated to students and families, including long-term expectations (such as graduation requirements and graduation standards), short-term expectations (such as the specific learning objectives for a lesson, course, or other learning experience), and general expectations (such as the performance levels used in the school’s grading and reporting system).
- Student achievement is evaluated against common learning standards and performance expectations that are consistently applied to all students regardless of whether they are enrolled in traditional courses or pursuing alternative learning pathways.
- All forms of assessment are standards-based and criterion-referenced, and success is determined by the achievement of expected standards, not relative measures of performance or student-to-student comparisons.
- Academic progress and achievement are monitored and reported separately from work habits, character traits, and behaviors such as attendance and class participation, which are also monitored and reported.
- Academic grades communicate learning progress and achievement to students and families, and grades are used to facilitate and improve the learning process.
- Students are given multiple opportunities to improve their work when they fail to meet expected standards.
- Students can demonstrate learning progress and achievement in multiple ways through differentiated assessments, personalized-learning options, or alternative learning pathways.
- Students are given opportunities to make important decisions about their learning, which includes contributing to the design of learning experiences and learning pathways.
20-A M.R.S.A. Ch. 207-A § 4511, sub-§3 Accreditation Requirements (as revised 4/19/2016)
20-A M.R.S.A. Ch. 207-A § 4703 Instruction for Individual Students
20-A M.R.S.A. Ch. 207-A § 4722-A Proficiency-Based Diploma Standards and Transcripts (as revised 4/19/2016)
20-A M.R.S.A. Ch. 207-A § 6209, sub-§3-A Transcripts (as revised 4/19/2016)
Ch. 127 § 7 (Me. Dept. of Ed. Rule) (as revised)
IK: Assessment of Student Learning
IKA: Grading and Reporting System
IHCDA: Dual Enrollment and Early College
IKD: Academic Recognition
IKE: Promotion, Retention, and Acceleration
IKFF: Multiple Pathways
Download the District Policy Exemplar: Proficiency-Based Education (.doc)
Proficiency-Based Learning Simplified by Great Schools Partnership is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.