Oxford Hills Moves Towards Proficiency

OHCHS Graduation

 The goal of proficiency-based learning is to better prepare students with the knowledge and skills necessary for success in higher education and 21st century careers.
“Proficiency-based education refers to any system of academic instruction, assessment, grading and reporting that is based on students demonstrating mastery of the knowledge and skills they are expected to learn before they progress to the next lesson, get promoted to the next grade level or receive a diploma.  The general goal of proficiency-based education is to ensure that students acquire the knowledge and skills that are deemed to be essential to success in school, higher education, careers and adult life. If students struggle to meet minimum expected standards, they receive additional instruction, practice time and academic support to help them achieve proficiency, but they do not progress in their education until expected standards are met.” Maine Department of Education
June - 2018 - The move to proficiency is strongly supported by District administration and staff. However, implementing a proficiency diploma will require us to change many of the traditions parents and students are familiar with, including: policy, graduation standards and grading. These changes will result in more clarity for students and families and greater opportunities for students to demonstrate achievement.  The Board supports many of these changes and the district is now beginning the arduous task of communicating with parents and students – those most likely to be impacted.   The Board of Directors approved the final draft of Policy IF-Proficiency Based Education on May 7, 2018.  The principles of policy IF are outlined below.  The Board of Directors has also reviewed a policies on graduation reguirements and grading and reporting.  They are looking for community input on these critical policies before taking them up for a second reading over the summer. 
July -2018  - The first public forum on the new proficiency-based  system was held on June 14 at  at the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School.  The meeting was attending by nearly 50 parents, teachers, administrators and Board members.  After hearing a brief overview about the background of the district's work in proficiency participants were divided into small breakout groups.  Participants were abe to learn from teachers how teachers and students  would be impacted by proficiency grading.  Community members were abe to ask questions in small groups and submit written feedback.  The feedback was collected and summarized into eight themes.  The Superintendent is recommending a  one year delay of the implementation of the proposed proficiency grading and graduation policies so as to address the eight themes that emerged. 
August - 2019 - The administrative team, working in conjuction with staff at all levels in the district, released an outline of the district's current granding practices.  The outline may be found here
Superintendent's Letter on Delaying Proficiency Grading
Themes from the June 14 Public Meeting on Proficiency Grading
Written Feedback from Participants attending the June 14 Public Meeting on Proficiency Grading
Principles of Proficiency-Based Education
The following principles will guide the district’s approach to proficiency-based education:

  1. All learning expectations will be clearly and consistently communicated to students and families, including long-term expectations (such as graduation requirements and graduation standards), short-term expectations (such as the specific learning objectives for a course or other learning experience), and general expectations (such as the performance levels used in the school’s grading and reporting system).
  2. Student achievement is evaluated against common learning standards and performance expectations that are consistently applied to all students and pathways.
  3. All forms of assessment are standards-based and criterion-referenced, and success is determined by the achievement of expected standards, not relative measures of performance or student-to-student comparisons.
  4. The primary purpose of the grading system is to accurately assess and clearly communicate learning progress, academic achievement, and habits of work to students, families, and others, in order to foster growth and guide future learning for all students.
  5. Students are given multiple opportunities to improve their work so that they meet expected standards.
  6. Students may demonstrate learning progress and achievement in multiple ways through differentiated assessments, established alternative learning pathways, or approved personalized-learning options.
  7. Students are given opportunities to make important decisions about their learning, which includes contributing to the design of learning experiences and learning pathways.

District Policy on Proficiency:
District Policy IF -Proficiency Based Education 
Other District Documents on Proficiency:
Proposed 9-12 Scoring Guide
Proposed 6-8 Scoring Guide
Proposed  K-5 Grading Guide
Scoring Criteria Overview
College Responses to Proficiency Diplomas:
Quotes from Colleges and University about the impact of Proficiency Reporting on College Admissions
How Colleges Review Proficiency Based Transcripts - New England Board of Higher Education
Link to College Admissions Letters on Proficiency
Helpful Links on the Subject of Proficiency: 
Making Grades Fair, Accurate, Specific and Timely - Phi Delta Kappan article, author/consultant Ken O’Connor, Lee Ann Jung (San Diego State University), and Douglas Reeves (Creative Leadership Solutions)
Link to Great Schools Partnership's Research on Grading and Reporting
Link to Great Schools Partnership's Research on Assessment
Coronado Valedictorian Graduation Speech
Link to The Atlantic - "The Two Most Important College-Admissions Criteria Now Mean Less"