Resources available for transition to proficiency-based diploma

In 2012, the Maine Legislature passed into law LD 1422, An Act to Prepare Maine People for the Future Economy (Maine Revised Statutes, Title 20-A, section 4722-A).  The cornerstone of this law was the requirement that Maine transition to a proficiency-based system in which graduation from a Maine high school after Jan. 1, 2018 would be based on students demonstrating proficiency in meeting Maine’s learning standards in all eight content areas and their guiding principles. Maine DOE was charged with assisting school administrative units (SAUs) with this transition by developing standards-based system tools and by providing technical assistance and targeted funding.

A key component of Maine DOE’s support to SAUs is the online resource center Getting to Proficiency: Helping Maine Graduate Every Student Prepared, now available at www.maine.gov/doe/proficiency. The site features a growing collection of information and tools to help administrators and teachers develop a practical plan of action through a self-assessment that addresses policies, practices and community engagement and a set of guiding questions to assist in thinking through the shift to proficiency-based diplomas. In addition to the resources the Getting to Proficiency site provides, Maine educators can submit questions to the Maine DOE proficiency-based learning technical assistance team, participate in regular webinars, connect with specialists at the Maine DOE and attend forthcoming regional and state professional development events related to proficiency-based learning.

In addition to the extensive tools and technical assistance now available from the Department, SAUs should expect to receive their targeted transition funds for the 2013-2014 school year in the coming days, either via electronic fund transfer or check. The law calls for the Department to distribute to each SAU a grant in the amount of 1/10th of 1 percent of that SAU’s total cost of education, as calculated under the EPS school funding formula. The law also directs that the funds are to be spent “in the manner determined by the school administrative unit to fund the costs of the transition (to proficiency-based graduation) not otherwise subsidized by the state.”  (Title 20-A, section 4722-A(4)).

To ensure that the funds are spent consistent with the statutory requirement, the Department will require a year-end report on the use of the funds.  The report must include sufficient detail to see that the expenditures are related to the transition to proficiency-based graduation. Examples include expenditures to upgrade software to enable monitoring and reporting of student progress toward meeting standards; expenditures for staff release time to participate in professional development related to proficiency-based curriculum design and instruction; and expenditures for communications to parents and the general public regarding proficiency-based learning. For more examples, visit the Support” section of the Getting to Proficiency website.

The grant funds must be coded, for accounting purposes, as Fund 2232 and Revenue Code 3232. Because the law requires distribution to each SAU, funds will be provided to all SAUs, including those that do not operate schools.  Those SAUs must ensure that the funds are used for the appropriate purpose, which may be accomplished, for example, by distributing the funds to schools attended by their resident students, on a per-student basis.

This is truly an exciting time in education.  Proficiency-based educators in Maine are seeing increased student engagement, increased personalization of instruction and increased targeting of interventions to the specific needs of students. Educators also report that implementation of a proficiency-based system leads to greater collaboration and articulation of curriculum within and across schools, more reflective practice and a greater capacity to respond to the individual needs of students. Meanwhile, parents are better able to understand school and grade-level expectations and more thoroughly support their child in achieving those expectations.

We at Maine DOE look forward to supporting Maine schools implement proficiency-based learning to ensure that their students graduate from high school with the skills they need for success in college, career and civic life. For more information or support, please contact a member of the Maine DOE team below.

Diana Doiron
Standards-Based Education Specialist
Maine Department of Education
207-624-6823
diana.doiron@maine.gov

Donald Siviski
Standards-Based Education Consultant
Maine Department of Education
207-624-6620
donald.siviski@maine.gov

Gary Chapin
Research Associate for Standards-Based Education
Maine Department of Education
207-458-1726
gary.chapin@maine.gov

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