Proficiency-based diploma extension applications now available to SAUs

The following Priority Notice was distributed to superintendents Tuesday, July 22.

Dear Superintendents,

Discussions at the Commissioners Conference in June yielded valuable input for the diploma extensions application process. In the weeks following the conference, three school administrative units in Maine agreed to pilot the application process by completing the extension request best suited to their level of preparedness to award a proficiency-based diploma.

The Department is grateful to the superintendents and staff in Bangor, Cape Elizabeth and South Portland for taking on this additional work immediately following the close of a busy school year. As a result of the conference feedback and the information gained through the piloting of the applications, we revised and streamlined the application process and these changes are reflected in the applications posted on the website. We are pleased to share the three pilot extension applications,  which the Department has approved, posted on the Department’s Getting to Proficiency web pages as examples.

These applications and the others that will follow confirm the great volume of work and thoughtful planning occurring in Maine schools in support of students’ learning and preparation for college and careers. The applications also reveal the customized work occurring in each school administrative unit as they design and implement strategic plans to transition to a proficiency-based diploma.

SAUs will find the six extension application forms posted on the Department’s Getting to Proficiency site. Districts that are prepared to award proficiency-based diplomas representing proficiency in the standards of all 8 content areas and the Guiding Principles after January 1, 2018, should complete a confirmation of readiness form. This form is also located on the Department’s Getting to Proficiency site.

In response to feedback from superintendents during the Commissioner’s Conference and on the Readiness Inventory, the Department has added a third submittal window for the extension applications and confirmations of readiness. The three submittal windows are: August 18, 2014; September 17, 2014 and October 17, 2014.  All applications should be received no later than 5 P.M. on these dates. Details regarding the submittal process are described below.

Directions for submitting an extension application or confirmation of readiness

  1. Download the appropriate document that best fits your district’s preparedness from the Getting to Proficiency site
  2. Complete the document and provide evidence to support the responses. Our intent is to keep the process streamlined and reasonable and have therefore set word limits of 1000 words for each section in the application and request that districts submit a total of no more than 25 pages of evidence.
  3. Convert the extension application or confirmation of readiness document and all pages of evidence to a PDF format and fax your complete application to Diana Doiron at the following fax number: 1-877-227-9838. (Note: Please do not email the application. Faxing it to this 877 number ensures that it is delivered to the Department’s dedicated folder.)

Extension applications or confirmations of readiness that are incomplete or lack sufficient evidence will receive feedback requesting additional information. Our plan is to process all submissions within a month of the submittal window. This plan is dependent on the number of submissions received per submittal deadline.

I believe Maine students deserve to graduate confident that the diploma they’ve been awarded means they have the knowledge and skills needed for success in their next steps. The continued work to support student proficiency should help us to address current gaps in math and reading, and help to decrease the percentage of Maine graduates who go onto college, but are required to take basic remedial courses. I am committed to ensuring Maine SAUs continue to progress toward proficiency and that our Department is doing all we can within our authority and capacity to support those local efforts.

Sincerely,
Jim Rier, Commissioner
Maine Department of Education