April 10, 2012

Maine switch: High school diploma based on proficiency

Lawmakers appear set to require evidence of skills to graduate rather than length of time in school.

By Susan M. Cover scover@mainetoday.com
State House Bureau

(Continued from page 1)

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Regardless of whether a student did it right the first time or needed two or three tries, an employer would know that he or she had demonstrated the skill needed to do the work, he said.

Rep. Maeghan Maloney, D-Augusta, an opponent of the bill, has a son in seventh grade. His class would be the first that's subject to the new regulations.

Maloney said top-down educational mandates from Washington, D.C., or Augusta haven't worked in the past, and she doesn't think they are a good idea now.

"My concern is that we're forcing school districts to undertake a program that we don't know works," she said.

School districts can adopt such systems now, and some have, including Hall-Dale Schools in central Maine. Maloney doesn't see a need to require it statewide.

"In school districts where it has been successful, it's because of parents and teachers deciding they want to implement this program," she said.

A week ago, the bill failed in the House because it needed two-thirds support, as an unfunded mandate to school districts.

Before it got to the Senate, the bill was amended to provide a small amount of funding to schools, so it would no longer need two-thirds support to pass.

Two Democrats -- Rep. Sharon Treat, D-Hallowell, and Rep. Devin Beliveau, D-Kittery -- tried to amend the bill in the House, but both ideas were rejected.

Treat wanted to require districts to set up plans for teacher training and for outreach to students and parents. She also wanted to clarify that school districts would maintain control of grading systems and how students are advanced from one grade to another.

Beliveau, a teacher, wanted to add one day of teacher training to the school year to ensure that teachers are ready to change to a new system.

State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at: scover@mainetoday.com

 

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Education reform

Do you agree with education reform legislation that would require all school districts to move to a standards-based education system?

Yes

No

View Results