BANGOR, Maine — The school committee voted unanimously Wednesday night to apply for a one-year extension on the implementation of a new education system.
Under the new system, high school students across Maine will be awarded a diploma, called a proficiency-based diploma, only after demonstrating they have met the state’s learning standards.
School districts are required by law to award proficiency-based diplomas to 2018 graduates, meaning incoming freshmen will have to graduate under the new system.
But in response to multiple requests from school superintendents, the Maine Department of Education outlined a set of six extension options districts can consider when making the transition. A letter announcing these options was sent to superintendents from Education Commissioner Jim Rier in late May.
Betsy Webb, Bangor School Department superintendent, chose an option that allows one extra year to implement the system.
“The one-year extension provides the necessary time to develop, review, pilot, refine and finalize the core elements of the blended system,” wrote Bangor High School Principal Paul Butler in a letter to Webb that was distributed to committee members.
This new education system encourages districts to move away from the use of credits to measure student progress and places more of an emphasis on a student’s ability to demonstrate they have grasped certain knowledge and skills.
Bangor High School is committed to an education system that blends traditional credits and the new, proficiency-based system, Butler’s letter said. At a school board meeting in May, he told the committee that the school is well on its way to making the transition but the extension would give teachers time to prepare.
“In my opinion it would be ethically and morally wrong to tell our incoming freshmen that they’re going to be graded on a system that has not been tested and proven reliable,” said Webb at the school committee at a meeting in April.
Also at Wednesday night’s meeting, school committee members expressed appreciation to Bangor residents for passing the 2014-2015 school budget on Tuesday.