RSU 9 continues proficiency-based standards discussions

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FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 directors voted unanimously Tuesday to have administrators propose a double-grading system that would include both overall course scores and proficiency-based standards reporting.

The proposal will be reported to the board at the next meeting, Tuesday, Aug. 28 for review.

This decision followed a motion to discontinue implementation of proficiency-based education reporting for a year. That motion was defeated overwhelmingly.

In 2012, a state law established proficiency-based education graduation standards. The law went into effect in 2017, affecting last year’s freshmen, but was repealed July 22.

Districts are now free to choose whether to continue with the standards or revert to traditional diploma standards.

Proficiency-based education refers to an academic instruction, assessment, grading and reporting system based on demonstrating mastery of the knowledge and skills they are expected to learn before progressing to the next lesson, getting promoted to the next grade level or receiving a diploma.

Shelley Joyce of Farmington, a Kennebec Valley Community College instructor and parent of an RSU 9 student, said her issue with proficiency-based education was assessment scoring.

Proficiency-based learning uses assessment tools called rubrics for grading learning expectations and objectives. Traditional assessments are based on a scale of 0-100, while proficiency-based assessments are based on a 1-4 scale.

Superintendent Tina Meserve shared resolution documents from the Maine School Management Association, which she said sets the direction of the association for the next 10 years. Proficiency-based education is addressed in the 2017 resolution, Meserve said.

“They are advocating working toward PBE,” Meserve stated. “This document has been presented to superintendents and was unanimously accepted. It was also presented to the Board of Education and was accepted enthusiastically.”

Addressing concerns with the 1-4 grading scale, Meserve recommended implementing a system that would allow for double-grading where overall course grades would be presented on both the proficiency-based education and traditional scales.

If the board reverts to traditional diploma standards, policies addressing grading, graduation and co curricular would need to be revised, according to Laura Columbia, the curriculum. coordinator

“Realistically, if there was a push, policies could be changed in four weeks,” Director Iris Silverstein of Farmington said.

Added Chesterville Director Craig Stickney, “Students, parents, teachers and community members have all expressed that they would like to put this on hold while we work through it,”

Lidie Robbins of Vienna added, “What we are hearing very consistently is that there are serious concerns that we cannot address before school starts.”

dmenear@franklinjournal.com

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