Maine to Move to a Standards-Based High School Diploma

During the 2012 Maine Legislative Session, Commissioner of Education Stephen Bowen spoke in favor of passing L.D. 1422, An Act to Prepare Maine People for the Future Economy. The legislature then passed the bill in May. The state policy holds its education system responsible for preparing “all of the people of the State for success in college, career, citizenship and life.”

The law establishes goals related to improving early childhood programming, increasing high school and college completion rates and guaranteeing college and career readiness. One major change developing out of the law is a move to a standards-based high school diploma. The move to this diploma was initiated because over half (54%) of Maine high school students who continue their education at a community college require remedial coursework prior to taking college-level classes, according to Maine Department of Education’s spokesperson, David Connerty-Marin. The law will require potential graduates (beginning in 2017) to show proficiency in English, mathematics, and science—among other subject areas which would be determined by the local school board.

During the legislature’s deliberations, Commissioner Bowen,supported the bill, saying "[t]he idea is that under the bill, this year's seventh-graders would be that first class of kids that would have to demonstrate that they've met the learning results in order to graduate. That means that if I'm a high school, I'm going to have that group of kids soon."

Schools will have to allow students to show proficiency in any number of ways, from a traditional test, to a performance, exhibitions, or portfolios. Additionally, there is a waiver provision that would give districts until 2020 to fully implement the new diplomas if they can demonstrate they are working toward that goal.

Note: This blog post was originally authored under the auspices of the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The National High School Center’s blog, High School Matters, which ran until March 2013, provided an objective perspective on the latest research, issues, and events that affected high school improvement. The CCRS Center plans to continue relevant work originally developed under the National High School Center grant. National High School Center blog posts that pertain to CCRS Center issues are included on this website as a resource to our stakeholders.

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