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 to 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 competencies, 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 competencies. 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 beliefs and principles will guide the district’s approach to proficiency-based education, promotion, and graduation:
Belief 1: All students can and will learn when they feel included, respected, and valued by their learning community.
- Students are known as individuals and learners, and they are supported in developing positive relationships with each other and with adults in the learning community.
- The curriculum, classrooms, and structures of the school recognize and honor student identities and interests.
- The district and school communities have systems and structures that engage and include all students, families, and the broader community in meaningful ways.
- The district and school actively work to uncover and eliminate systemic inequities based on demographic groups and identity traits.
Belief 2: All students must be challenged, believed in, and supported to reach common, high expectations.
- Learning outcomes are clearly articulated and consistently applied to all students, including those that are long-term (graduation competencies and performance indicators), short-term (learning targets), and habits of work.
- All students engage in complex thinking and the application of skills and knowledge throughout the learning process within and across content areas.
- Interventions, extensions of learning, and opportunities to revise and relearn are systemic and provided regularly so that all students achieve common outcomes.
Belief 3: Student learning is enhanced by clear cycles of practice, feedback, assessment, and reflection.
- All forms of assessment are aligned to a common set of competencies.
- Habits of work are assessed and reported separately from academic knowledge and skills.
- The continual use of formative assessment provides opportunities for students to practice, self-assess, and give and receive feedback.
- Summative assessments, evaluated against common scoring criteria, are used to evaluate a student’s level of achievement on competencies and performance indicators at a given point in time.
- All forms of feedback (including grades) are used to adjust instruction and learning, to inform academic interventions, and to identify extensions of learning.
- Students regularly reflect on their learning progress and are taught to evaluate and use feedback.
Belief 4: Students are empowered and engaged by choice in their learning experiences.
- All learning pathways (courses, internships, extended learning opportunities, etc.) are aligned to a common set of competencies.
- Learning in different ways and at varied paces is expected and planned for in all settings, requiring differentiation, student choice, and personalized learning options to meet common outcomes.
- Students make important decisions about their learning experiences and how they will demonstrate their knowledge and skills.
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)
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