LD 1627: Proficiency credentials testimony

March 7, 2016

Senator Langley, Representative Kornfield, Esteemed Colleagues on the Education Committee,

I am Brian Hubbell, representing House District 135, Bar Harbor, Mount Desert, and Lamoine, and I am here this morning testifying in favor of our committee bill, LD 1627 An Act To Implement Certain Recommendations of the Maine Proficiency Education Council.

As you know, this bill contains significant policy that has been the subject of earnest discussions since last session with many different stakeholders, all of whom are greatly committed to the long-term success of proficiency-based learning and the ambitious expectation that all Maine students receive real opportunity to become proficient in the full scope of the Maine Learning Results and that all students leave high school prepared for postsecondary learning, citizenship, and careers.

To explain the connected scope, let me take you through the three major themes of the bill.

Ensuring capacity and school accountability for proficiency in all areas of the learning results

Bill section 4 adds language to the Learning Results section of law requiring that schools shall ensure sufficient opportunity and capacity through multiple pathways for all students to study and achieve proficiency in all eight content areas of the learning results. All eight content areas are preserved in the Learning Results along with the expectation of student proficiency in each.

Bill section 6 requires that the Department develop major substantive rules to strengthen the capacity of school administrative units to ensure sufficient opportunity through multiple pathways for all students to achieve proficiency in meeting the state standards and guiding principles in the system of learning results.

Bill section 1 adds a standard for school accreditation which requires that schools demonstrate evidence of sufficient capacity through multiple pathways for students to reach proficiency in each of the content areas of the system of learning results and in each of the guiding principles.

As you remember, last week this committee amended LD 1253 to require that student proficiency be part of the state’s school assessment system of school ‘report cards’ and that proficiency in the learning results also will inform the state’s federal accountability system which is required to assure evidence of equitable access to learning for all students.

In short, schools and the state will be evaluated and held accountable on how successful Maine students are in reaching proficiency in all content areas of the Learning Results.

Assuring accountability with meaningful certification and credentials for student learning

Bill section 2 and bill section 5 add a requirement that, to award a diploma, schools must certify that the student has demonstrated by objective measures college and career readiness.  This section also requires that, as part of the transcript, schools must certify a student’s proficiency in each area of the learning results.  The transcript then may serve as a student’s primary credential of learning, effectively decoupling the transcript from a diploma as the essential representation of student achievement.

I have included two different models of what the proficiency component of a transcript might look like.

This section also allows the Department to collect this same proficiency and readiness data and use it within the state accountability system which, via LD 1253, connects overall school levels of student achievement and postsecondary readiness to eligibility for targeted funding for school improvement.

Allowing more freedom and flexibility for multiple pathways toward proficiency

Bill section 7 directs the Department to amend rules in order to establish strategies by which special education students with an individual education plan may demonstrate proficiency in meeting the state standards and guiding principles of the learning results.

Bill section 2 allows schools more local authority over setting their own threshold diploma standards and explicitly allows a different diploma pathway for students in career and technical education and dual enrollment programs.  

While this may free schools to allow students to pursue deeper learning in certain content areas and pathways, it also allows schools to maintain broader or more rigorous requirements if they believe them necessary to drive students toward proficiency.

This section also establishes a process via rulemaking to evaluate and clarify state graduation standards.

Linkage to other current bills

This bill connects to other critical legislation that the committee has approved this session.

The transcript and proficiency data link to the school accountability system that the state is developing in response to the new flexibility granted to states under the new federal ESSA law.  

The same data will be used for the improved school assessment system that LD 1253, An Act To Improve the Evaluation of Public Schools directs to replace the current school ‘report cards’ leading to better, more transparent public understanding of school capacity and student learning.

This more detailed information and accountability will also establish schools’ eligibility for funding for school improvement, professional development, and extended learning defined in the committee’s school funding bill, LD 1394, An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Commission To Strengthen the Adequacy and Equity of Certain Cost Components of the School Funding Formula.

The review process established under rule in this bill related to graduation standards in Math and English Language Arts will inform the review of the Learning Results this committee approved in LD 1492, An Act To Amend the Laws Governing Education Standards in Maine.

With the requirement of certification by objective measures of college and career readiness, this bill addresses the primary remediation concern of LD 1033: Resolve, To Assist the University of Maine System and the Maine Community College System To Reduce the Need for Remedial Education

Thank you. I am happy to answer any questions.

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