I urge Maine lawmakers to keep the proficiency-based high school diploma law and not go the optional route. I also urge them to get back to the people’s business.

I taught for 36 years, 25 in midcoast Maine. I saw schools reach for every new, shiny program that purported to improve students’ academic proficiency. New approaches weren’t given enough time before another was adopted. (As an aside, I’ll point out that research has found that more than the method, it’s the good teacher who makes the difference to students. Thank you to the Legislature for not opting to lower teacher certification standards.)

So, let’s maintain student graduation standards. If school districts struggle, let’s provide assistance. Using common academic standards and proficiency-based diplomas is an approach that can benefit all students – and the state – but making it work means time to adjust instruction and to develop and improve assessments.

Graduating seniors should have proficiency in English, math, science, technology and social studies. We live in complex times, and today’s young people need as much preparation as possible to be successful and to be informed citizens. Accommodations should be made for special education students, but overall, standards matter. Let’s maintain current student graduation standards.

Susan Vaughan

St. George

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