|The Maine Charter School Commission will continue to require all their schools follow the proficiency-based diploma law despite passage of a bill that would allow public schools to revert back to a system based on seat time and credit hours.
MCSC Executive Director Bob Kautz raised the issue at the group’s monthly meeting on Tuesday saying the commission’s directive when the charters were approved was to make them all proficiency-based schools. Kautz said that directive will remain until the commission votes otherwise.
Proficiency systems essentially require schools to give students instruction and support until they can demonstrate understanding of the content in a given subject and are ready to move onto the next level.
Commission member Jana Lapoint echoed the sentiment of her fellow commissioners, saying she was disappointed by the Legislature’s vote to make the system optional.
Lapoint recalled a visit to Snow Pond Arts Academy, where the proficiency system was discussed.
“All the students said they loved it,” she said. There were implementation issues that needed to be addressed, but “I thought we were on a decent path.”
Baxter Academy for Technology and Science in Portland, a charter high school focused on STEM, has been used as a model for the proficiency-based system, with strong results.
The bill that made proficiency-based diplomas optional in Maine’s public schools — L.D. 1666 — said schools could stick with proficiency or go back to traditional credits and course requirements. The bill passed both the House and Senate and escaped a governor’s veto.
In an unusual move, Gov. LePage issued a statement on why he didn’t veto the bill.
“A standards-based education affords a lot of opportunities for an engaging education across all disciplines. Ensuring that this is the type of education we implement should continue to be the focus of the Maine Department of Education,” the governor wrote. “I hope L.D. 1666 is not just an effort to undo something.”