Maine higher ed institutions endorse proficiency

It’s high school graduation season and while the commitment of Maine K-12 public education system to proficiency-based diplomas starting in 2018 is clear, one of the questions I’m most frequently asked is whether colleges share that belief in the great value of this approach.

Actions like the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s transition to proficiency-based learning and college acceptances of graduates from Maine schools that have already gone to proficiency-based education reflect higher education’s support, which is not surprising given this shift ensures greater college and career readiness.

But Maine students and their families rightfully want more guarantees that post-secondary institutions will understand and embrace their proficiency-based diplomas.  

That’s why I am pleased to share that earlier this week, the New England Secondary School Consortium (NESSC) announced that all of the public institutions of higher education in five New England states including Maine have endorsed proficiency-based education and graduation.

In total, 55 colleges and universities across New England, including all of those within the University of Maine and Maine Community College systems as well as Husson University, Thomas College and Unity College, have now signed on to an NESSC-developed collegiate endorsement.

In doing so, participants affirmed their support for “proficiency-based teaching practices, assessments, report cards, graduation decisions and other strategies that can increase student preparation for higher education, modern careers, and lives of active, informed citizenship.”

Acknowledging that proficiency-based education provides stronger academic preparation that will increase college enrollment and completion, signatories also agreed to accept a wide range of transcripts, including those from proficiency-based high schools, “if the students meet our stated admissions requirements and the transcripts provide a full and accurate presentation of what an applicant has learned and accomplished.”

I want to commend the participating post-secondary institutions for recognizing the benefits of supporting proficiency-based systems, which will undoubtedly better ensure students arrive at our colleges and universities prepared for the rigor they’ll encounter there.

I additionally want to thank NESSC for honoring the questions of students, parents and others about the connection between K-12 and higher education by proactively seeking these assurances.

Since 2012 when Maine committed to awarding proficiency-based diplomas starting in 2018, the nation has been looking to our state’s school administrative units as education leaders. Now, it is looking at our higher education institutions as innovators too.