April 24, 2019
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Maine is again on the cusp of changing high school diploma requirements

Micky Bedell | BDN
Micky Bedell | BDN
Sen. Rebecca Millett, D-Cape, at the statehouse in Augusta in mid-March.

After months of debate, the Legislature’s education committee approved a bill Friday evening that would remove a mandate requiring Maine schools to implement “proficiency-based” diplomas.

The law mandating the diplomas was originally passed in 2012. It says that current Maine freshmen need to reach proficiency in a number of subject areas, such as math, science and English, in order to graduate.

Maine was the first state to pass such a law. However, over the past two months, the education committee has heard from teachers, parents, and officials, with many saying that local districts have struggled to implement the law. Others say the diplomas could make it more difficult for some students to graduate.

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The bill approved by the education committee would still allow schools to graduate students using “proficiency-based diplomas” but would no longer mandate it. Local districts could set their own graduation requirements.

Sen. Rebecca Millett says that by removing that mandate, she hopes schools can still pursue proficiency-based education if they want to.

“But when we mandate it like this, then I’m not convinced that people are doing it for the right reasons,” Millett said. “And I certainly heard some testimony that gave me pause about the quality of the implementation across districts.”

The bill passed by a vote of 8 to 3. Republican Sen. Brian Langley, who helped write the original proficiency-based diploma law in 2012, opposed the proposal.

The bill will now head to the House and Senate.

This report appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.

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