To Parents/Guardians of the Class of 2021:

Welcome to Mt. Ararat High School.  My hope is that the content provided on this webpage will be helpful to you as your children transition to the high school and our district transitions to a proficiency-based system of learning and reporting.  

As your child enters the high school planning for graduation in the year 2021, he/she will be in the first group of students required to meet certain proficiency levels associated with the MSAD No. 75 graduation standards in order to receive a diploma.  What does this mean for your child?   Your child will need to demonstrate that he/she meets proficiency levels as outlined in performance scales on each learning goal associated with the graduation standards.  In the past, children have been able to earn course credits with low grades; in the future, children will need to demonstrate that they are proficient on learning goals taught and assessed in a course.  The documentation of proficiency on learning goals associated with the graduation standards outlined in a series of courses will be the path to a diploma.

It is important to note that the curriculum taught and assessed at the high school has been and is still based on Maine's Learning Results which were originally adopted in 1997 and updated in 2011 to include the Common Core standards. Parents can rest assured that the curriculum is not changing; your students will receive high quality instruction in this curriculum from exceptional teachers.   Students who are actively engaged in learning who seek support when they encounter challenging concepts will be able to meet the proficiency level required on the learning goals as required for graduation.  What will be different is the emphasis on specific learning goals and use of performance scales to clearly state what students need to know and be able to do to demonstrate proficiency.  The way we document student learning will also focus on achieved levels of proficiency on learning goals instead of simply averaging scores on various assignments and assessments, so documentation will also be different.

The development of a proficiency-based system has been in the works for several years.  In the fall of 2014, the Proficiency-Based Steering Committee was formed which included representation from all stakeholder groups in our community (students, parents, teachers, administrators, post-secondary institutions, and area business partners).  The members of the steering committee developed the four tenets of proficiency-based learning which serve as our vision for proficiency-based learning:

  • All students will be better prepared for college, career, and civic readiness
  • All students will connect to, engage in, and develop a passion for learning
  • All students can learn and show what they know in a variety of ways and paces (multiple pathways)
  • Students, teachers, and families have a clear understanding of where a student's learning is, and where it is headed

In the spring of 2015 the School Board adopted a set of Graduation Standards.   During the 2015-2016 school year, teachers at the high school developed a set of learning goals associated with the graduation standards to be taught in a series of courses at the high school which outline what students would need to know and be able to do to demonstrate proficiency for a diploma.  And during the 2016-2017 school year, teachers developed performance scales to provide a clear understanding of what is means to be proficient on a learning goal.  The high school faculty has also been developing a system for grading and reporting on student learning to support tracking student progress as they work to meet expected proficiency levels on learning goals required for graduation.  The plan is to have clearly stated learning goals and performance scales ready as we welcome the Class of 2021 and a system for reporting on performance on the learning goals required for graduation.  The development of our proficiency-based system will continue to be a central focus for the next four years and student and parent feedback will be helpful as we refine and develop policies and procedures associated with this system.

Two parent meetings were held in the spring of 2017 to provide information about the proficiency-based system and hear from parents regarding their questions or concerns.  It is clear that parents are concerned about the reporting system and want to know that changes will not impact students as they compete for post-secondary placement options.  Parents want to know that performance scales will include level "4" expectations and that students will have opportunities to learn and achieve at this level .  Parents also want to know that supports will be available for students who struggle to meet proficiency on learning goals.  A parent advisory group was formed in March to provide feedback as the proficiency-based system is implemented.  The parents in this group have and will continue to help me and other administrators understand the concerns and needs of parents as we implement a proficiency-based system.  The reporting system is the primary focus at this time as we plan to welcome the Class of 2021 to the high school.

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