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So who will be in PbL in the 2016-17 school year?
How does Proficiency-based Learning impact students as they apply to college and university?
What are your questions?
Habits of Work

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Proficiency-based Grading and Reporting
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Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment Blog

So who will be in PbL in the 2016-17 school year?

Ninth grade (Class of 2020) and tenth grade (Class of 2019) students will be taught and scored in a proficiency-based learning system in the 2016-17 school year. However, to ensure that students who are on track to take more advanced courses that are part of a 4-year progression (such as world language, music, art, etc.) some ninth and tenth grade students may be placed in a class with juniors (Class of 2018) and seniors (Class of 2017). Classes that contain juniors and seniors will be assessed in the traditional 100 scale grading system. At the end of the school year, there will be a conversion of the 100 scale year-end grades to a 4 pt scale.

How does Proficiency-based Learning impact students as they apply to college and university?

This is certainly an area that is extremely important as we aim to advantage our students in every way possible.   Our superintendent recently returned from four years leading an international school.  He had the opportunity to see grading systems from multiple countries and speak with Deans of Admissions from some of the world's great universities: Yale, Stanford, Cambridge, Boston University, Washington & Lee and many others.  He learned that colleges and universities are seeing an astounding variety of grading systems..  They are expert at reading transcripts and sorting out the quality of students applying.  The consistent message he heard was that universities look first at strength of program of studies (the courses a student takes in HS relative to what the HS offers).  If this is strong, and students do well in that course of studies no matter the grading system, then universities are looking for indications of the energy a student brings to their campus.  This is captured in essays, recommendations and areas that a student is passionate about and demonstrates skill and knowledge.  Universities who receive applications from literally thousands of different high schools from across the country and the globe, know how to read the transcripts no matter the grading scales.  We design our transcript and our school profile that goes along with it, to highlight the challenge of our high school and show off a student’s academic record to the fullest.

What are your questions?

The South Portland School Department’s mission calls for students to be self-motivated and engaged in their own educational planning and success.  We want:
·      Students to be focused on what they need to know and be able to do; 
·      Students to take a greater role in understanding and managing their own learning; and
·      Students and parents to see progress and achievement in meaningful terms.

Habits of Work

According to Dr. Ken O'Connor, "grades are broken when they do not accurately communicate achievement," (O'Connor, 2007, p. 19).  He and other educators suggest that student behaviors (effort, participation, adherence to class rules, etc.) should not be included in grades.  The inclusion of these behaviors in a grade means the grade is not a reflection of what the student knows and can do regarding content learning.  In South Portland we think that reporting on those behaviors is as important as reporting on content learning.
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