School districts in the Bangor area are making it easier for students to earn their high school diplomas after a six-year statewide push to make diplomas more rigorous, and Brewer is the latest district considering a similar change.
A number of districts have changed their graduation requirements in the six months since the state retreated from its mandate that schools issue “proficiency-based diplomas,” reverting to diplomas based on students earning passing grades and accruing enough course credits. That’s exactly the type of system state legislators and then-Gov. Paul LePage’s administration sought to move away from in 2012 when the proficiency-based diploma requirement became state law.
Bangor returned to a high school diploma based on course credits soon after lawmakers passed the law last summer making proficiency-based diplomas optional. Hermon made a similar change last year, along with Regional School Unit 22 — which covers Hampden, Newburgh, Winterport and Frankfort.
In Brewer, the city’s school board has started considering a hybrid system. Even though students would have to meet credit requirements and post passing grades to graduate under changes proposed for the city’s graduation requirements, a Brewer High School transcript would also list the progress students have made toward reaching proficiency in the state’s academic expectations, or standards.
“I think if we had gone to the proficiency-based diploma with eight content areas and levels of proficiency that were quite high, I think a lot of kids would not have gotten a diploma,” Hermon schools Superintendent Gary Gonyar said.