What is proficiency-based learning?
Proficiency-based learning requires mastering specific skills and knowledge rather than completing assignments. Each teacher has identified the specific skills and knowledge that they will teach in a course. Teaching is much more explicit; learning is much more student centered and personalized.
What are proficiency-based graduation requirements?
Vermont’s Education Quality Standards require that high schools create graduation requirements that are attained through evidence of proficiency rather than seat time and credits. Proficiency-based graduation requirements (PBGRs) are a collection of skills and knowledge that teachers and administrators at FNESU have determined to be critical in order for students to succeed in an increasingly competitive and unpredictable job market. They are rigorous and are intended to prepare students for careers and college. The chosen PBGRs represent skills and knowledge students will use for the rest of their lives. Each of the graduation requirements represent a broad skill, such as reading. Each proficiency is broken into 5-7 discrete skill sets called indicators. When all of the indicators have been deemed proficient, the broader graduation requirement is considered proficient.
Are there other schools moving to proficiency-based graduation requirements?
YES. All schools in Vermont are required to move to a proficiency-based system. Each school has the power to decide how to implement this change. It is a real opportunity for schools to make the shift to proficiencies meaningful for their particular students and community.
Does a student have to meet all the indicators of every graduation requirement?
Yes. There are two types of PBGRs: Content and Transferable Skills. Students must meet all of the indicators for the content areas (literacy, math, science, etc.). For the transferable skills, however, a student must meet the majority of the performance indicators for each area.
What are transferable skills?
Transferable skills are traits that are needed to be successful in all aspects of life beyond high school. At Franklin Northeast Supervisory union we have identified six key Transferable Skills: Collaboration, Communication, Self-Direction, Problem Solving, Citizenship, and Thinking. We believe that these are as important as academic skills to the success of graduating students. Students must demonstrate evidence of these skills in at least three contexts in order to achieve proficiency.
How will learning look different?
Students will have much more control over their learning. There will be more choices and options for students because there is now no requirement to take certain courses. While many students may still choose a path that includes mostly traditional courses, others may take advantage of activities they do outside of school, over the summer, and in the community to demonstrate proficiency in a particular indicator. The most obvious difference is that students can work at their own pace; when students can show proficiency in an indicator with evidence, they can move on to something else. This may take an entire year or it may take much less time.
How will students be assessed?
Students will submit evidence of proficiency to a teacher certified to teach in that content area. The teacher will review the evidence using a verification guide and if the evidence meets the criteria, the teacher will verify the student as proficient. A software system called LiFT will keep track of which performance indicators have been verified and track student progress toward meeting the graduation requirements.
What about College?
Colleges see many different types of transcripts already, from foreign countries, various states, charter and private schools, as well as home-schooled students. Colleges request school profiles from all schools that clearly outline the academic opportunities and the grading system. According to Great schools partnership, who spoke directly with colleges and universities, “69 New England Institutions of Higher Education State that Proficiency-Based Diplomas Do Not Disadvantage Applicants.”
What about a GPA?
If necessary, a GPA can be calculated at any time based on the indicators that have been deemed proficient or exemplary. Because there is no longer a time requirement attached to the PBGRs and indicators, this GPA does not take into consideration how many indicators have been attempted or how long a student has been working on a particular set of indicators.