Education is Changing

in 2016-17 School Year/Education Policy & Funding

How do we know what they know now?

What would it be like to drive around in a car from 1920? It probably wouldn’t work very well.  And it wouldn’t make much sense. Interestingly, we are currently using an educational system very similar to what was used over 100 years ago.

We have been very rooted in our traditional educational system which doesn’t necessarily serve the modern learner. Therefore we are trying to build a new system of education in Vermont that among other things can answer the question: “How do we teach students to be ready for jobs that might not even exist yet?”

For over a century, students have received a high school diploma based on the accumulation of credits earned for passing courses. This system has not necessarily ensured that students are actually ready for college or the job market. And many graduates leave high school unprepared to succeed. But, educators in Vermont think there is a better way.

Student Learning Outcomes

That is: Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements (PRGR) that are based on Student Learning Outcomes (SLO, see graphic page 1). Beginning with the graduating class of 2020 (today’s ninth graders), students will graduate, not based on credits received for passing courses, but based on proficiency.

U-32 principal Steven Dellinger-Pate says, “We really want our kids to be prepared to assume their role in society. To be a contributor to our community, graduates need more than just knowledge, they need transferable skills, or soft skills such as problem solving and critical thinking.”

Vermont is one of the first states to build policy and statutes around proficiency-based graduation requirements. It’s a very big change; perhaps the biggest change in education ever.

According to Dellinger-Pate, to implement proficiency-based graduation, five things need to be revised:

  • Curriculum
  • The way we assess students; how we help them demonstrate their understanding of content
  • How we teach students to demonstrate a higher level of knowledge
  • How we grade them
  • How we report back to parents, students and colleges

Students must not only demonstrate proficiency in literacy, math, science, art and physical education but also in critical thinking, independent and collaborative work and effective expressive communication.

What does proficiency look like?

In Washington Central Supervisory Union, our PBGRs are aligned to the Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) that our full school board adopted in May 2016.  What exactly will the SLO look like and sound like at the graduation level?  Come and find out Monday, June 5 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. for an exhibit of student work that demonstrates the Student Learning Outcomes at the graduation level, at U-32.

More information about proficiency-based learning can be found: