Maine schools moving to "proficiency-based" diplomas

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- School boards across Maine are re-writing their high school diploma requirements, as they get ready for a whole new way of determining when a student is ready to graduate. Over the next few years, Maine schools will be transitioning to what's called a "proficiency-based diploma." It's supposed to cut back on the number of remedial courses that students have to take in college. But it will be a big transition for many schools.

Proficiency-based diplomas are awarded when a student has met set standards in both school subjects and in things like problem solving skills, instead of when they've accumulated a certain number of credits. Casco Bay High School in Portland has been using the system for 9 years.

Principal Derek Pierce said, "Colleges have been very open to this system, and I think it may give us an advantage because colleges know our kids have been coming in with excellent preparation. And it gives them a better sense of what our kids can know and do upon graduation."

The new diploma requirements being considered by Portland's School Board also include a research project for seniors, and a mandate that every senior apply to a post-secondary education program.

There's a public hearing on the new requirements set for Tuesday at 6pm at the Portland Arts and Technology High School. School districts are supposed to use proficiency-based diplomas by 2018, but the Maine Department of Education recently announced that it is willing to grant extensions.


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