Proficiency-Based Learning

Teaching and learning all ways. Learning and teaching always.

Proficiency-based learning means that our educators, schools, and district are committed to ensuring that all students can independently apply our expectations. How is this different than traditional/industrial age schools? What should you expect in a proficiency-based learning school?

We now live in the digital age, and our students are digital age learners. Growing, living, and succeeding in the digital age requires different mindsets and skills than in an industrial age. Students need to learn to collaborate, connect, critically think, and create in varied ways. It is no longer “good enough” to leave high school with a “barely passing” average. It is no longer “good enough” to move on simply because of a birthday. Our students and community deserve the best, and “barely passing” and “moving on” are not what is best. So, as a result, we are changing. We are rethinking how we “do school.” From grade levels, to grading, to testing/assessment, to class length, to the diploma. We are creating schools that are based on the needs of the learners. We are putting students first. And we will be diligent in our efforts to make sure all students meet our high expectations of learning and performance.

Download the Proficiency-Based Learning Quick Guide

“Education is not the learning of facts, but the training the mind to think.” – Albert Einstein

Framework for Proficiency

Proficiency means a combination of what a learner knows, and what a learner can do. What a learner “knows” is based on the nouns in the learning goal, most easily recognized as the content. What a learner “can do” is based on the verbs in the learning goal, often referred to as complexity. Proficiency also means a learner demonstrates his/her learning independently (autonomously)… in other words, by himself/herself without “hand holding” by a teacher, a peer, or anyone else.

In other words: Content + Complexity + Independently  = Proficiency

If a learning goal is “compare and contrast main ideas across multiple texts,” then a learner is proficient if he/she can independently compare and contrast main ideas across multiple texts.

It’s that simple.

If a learner cannot “compare and contrast main ideas across multiple texts,” then the student keeps working on that goal, with support from classroom educators, until he/she meets it. Learners can not just “move on” or be “passed on” if they haven’t done the work, because they shouldn’t be. 

If a student can demonstrate that he/she can independently apply the content, but at a deeper/more complex level of critical thinking that is in the learning goal.

This framework for proficiency applies to all students in MSAD #46, regardless of grade level.

Click the link at the top of the page for the “Grading Scale Template” to see exactly how our grading system is defined.