Implementing LD 1422: Proficiency-Based Diplomas


The change to a learner-centered, proficiency-based system of education is one of the most significant changes in education in the last 100 years. It holds great promise for helping all students graduate career- and college-ready for the 21st century. The Maine Department of Education has built its strategic plan, Education Evolving, around this principle, and we are restructuring our service delivery model to improve our ability to assist districts in accomplishing this shift.

While we at Maine DOE are re-tooling to help local districts, many of you have been working to implement these changes and provide leadership and direction for the rest of the state. As a result of local implementation efforts, the Department has fielded questions recently regarding the implementation of learner-centered, proficiency-based education and the proficiency-based graduation requirement of LD 1422. The purpose of this letter is to answer these questions, which include the following:

  1. Are students required to achieve proficiency in all standards in all content areas?
  2. Will the Department require local districts to adopt specific curricula or instructional approaches as part of the Common Core and the proficiency-based diploma requirement?
  3. How does the proficiency-based graduation requirement apply to students with Individual Education Plans under IDEA?
  4. Has the required implementation date for proficiency-based graduation changed?

All standards in all content areas

Maine law, Title 20-A, section 4722-A requires a student graduating after Jan. 1, 2017*, to “demonstrate proficiency in meeting state standards in all content areas of the system of learning results established under section 6209.” The Department of Education interprets this language to mean that students must demonstrate proficiency in all standards in all content areas as set forth in Department Rule Chapter 131 and 132. For the most part, the manner in which these standards are taught and the method by which proficiency is assessed is a local decision, as described below.

State or local curricula and instructional practices

School districts are required to offer students instruction and educational experiences that provide them the opportunity to achieve and demonstrate proficiency in all content areas of the Maine Learning Results standards. (See Title 20-A, sections 4711 and 4721). The role of the Maine Department of Education is to provide resources and technical assistance to support districts in creating curricula and instructional practices to meet the needs of their students.  Decisions regarding curricula and instructional practices are local decisions. The Department will disseminate materials and training on practices that, in the experience and expertise of our staff, constitute “best practices,” though they are not binding on districts.

With regard to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics, for example, the strength of these standards is their unique, integrated structure, and we believe that it is important for districts to implement them in a way that is consistent with their integrated design, and the Department stands ready to provide assistance and support to districts as they undertake this work.

Proficiency-based graduation requirement, students with IEPs

The law regarding proficiency-based graduation provides that a diploma may be awarded to “a child with a disability, as defined in section 7001” if that child achieves proficiency in the same standards as required of other children, “…as specified by the goals and objectives of the child’s individualized education plan…”

The Department interprets this language to mean that an IEP may modify the means by which a student with a disability demonstrates proficiency in the standards, but the IEP does not modify the standards themselves. The standards and established proficiency levels will be held constant for all students in the awarding of a diploma.

*Implementation date

The law requiring proficiency-based diplomas included a provision requiring the state to provide implementation grants to local school districts, or else to delay the implementation date for such diplomas.  Section 4722-A, subsection 4 requires the implementation grant to equal 1/10th of 1 percent of a school administrative unit’s total cost of education under Title 20-A, section 15688.

Because the state did not provide implementation grants in the 2012-13 school year, the deadline for implementing the proficiency-based diploma requirement is Jan. 1, 2018. This means that diplomas awarded on or after Jan. 1, 2018, must be awarded on the basis of the requirements set forth in section 4722-A.

While the deadline is extended, please keep in mind that, in order for students to graduate with proficiency-based diplomas in 2018, they should be provided an opportunity to work in a proficiency-based education system as soon as practicable, so we encourage you not to delay laying the groundwork for proficiency-based diplomas. Also keep in mind that the commissioner may authorize a school district to award proficiency-based diplomas sooner than the deadline.

For more information on the Department’s work to support teaching and learning in Maine’s schools, please visit our website at Beginning July 1, 2013, the Department expects to launch a comprehensive online resource bank for schools transitioning to learner-centered, standards-based education.

More information

  • Diana Doiron
    Proficiency-Based Education Specialist
    Maine Department of Education
  • Don Siviski
    Superintendent of Instruction
    Maine Department of Education

One thought on “Implementing LD 1422: Proficiency-Based Diplomas

  1. As a veteran school board member I would like to add that the core curriculum of learning set good benchmarks for our children. BUT, you need to be concerned at how schools implement their goals to get to it…Some ideas like MCL, etc that are currently trying to be implemented with the cc is causing the program to go astray.

    You some how need to keep MCL’s, etc implementations from taking over the idea of cc..

    Thank you

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