Proficiency-based education (PBE) has been around for a long while. In our district, since 2005. It has been known as mass customized learning, standards-based grading, competency-based learning, and finally, proficiency-based education. Maine Department of Education (MDOE) refers to this system of learning as PBD — proficiency-based diploma — which is almost as inflammatory (and unfortunate) as MCL (mass customized learning). Let’s break this down a bit . . .
What is proficiency-based learning?
PBE “refers to systems of instruction, assessment, grading, and academic reporting that are based on the knowledge and skills students are expected to learn”
I’m sorry, what?
First, we make it very clear what students must learn. Teams of teachers and the director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment create graduation standards, which are the big, global learnings that all students must achieve. The team then writes standards, which are clearly stated learning goals, and then these are broken down into steps called learning targets. The curriculum tree shows you how all of these are related.
Second, we share what students must learn with all teachers, all students, and all parents. Teachers provide feedback to students about what they have achieved / learned, and on what they still need to work. We encourage students to do more practice work, homework, and we reteach in new ways. We allow more time for those students who need it. We also allow retakes on assessments, so they can demonstrate that they’ve learned.
Finally, the report card reflects exactly what students have learned, and where they need to work a little harder or have more time and support to achieve.
Is that all?
No. I’ll think I’ll make this a series of blog posts. Are you along for the PBE ride?