Themes emerge in transition to proficiency-based system

Focusing funding on professional development, communicating early and often with educators and parents, and the need for strong leadership were the leading learnings that emerged in an analysis of the case studies currently featured on the Maine DOE’s Center for Best Practice.

The Center for Best Practice is a collaboration between the Maine DOE and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, made possible by the contributions of the Maine schools that share their stories.

Following the publication of the Center’s six initial case studies, the Department completed a thematic analysis to identify themes. Though each of the districts featured in the Center over the last two years took decidedly different paths on their way to change, there were commonalities that emerged throughout the case studies.   The findings in the resulting Threads of Implementation: A Thematic Review of Six Case Studies of Maine School Districts Implementing Proficiency-Based Systems can inform the planning of other districts as they transition to issuing diplomas to students based on demonstrated proficiency. For example, featured districts noted they devoted significant funding to professional development and this knowledge could help others with their budget planning, including provide direction on how to best spend the $2 million in annual transition grants distributed by the Department.

Themes in the analysis were categorized by: vision and framework, policy, leadership, teacher engagement, finance and professional development, technology, communication, pace of implementation, and culture change.

The findings are also instructive to the Maine DOE, which is committed to the work moving toward proficiency-based/learned-centered practices and supporting the successful implementation of the proficiency-based diploma law in all Maine schools. The Department will continue to develop and share resources – including those provided directly by Maine schools – in its Center for Best Practice and Getting to Proficiency website to help districts most effectively address each of these identified areas of focus and others that emerge between now and full statewide implementation in 2018.

To review the complete thematic analysis, click here.