Proficiency-Based Learning Simplified Model

In an effort to support the thoughtful and manageable implementation of a proficiency-based education system, the following approach, supported by the accompanying illustration below, is recommended. The model illustrates the relationship among the Guiding Principles, the content standards, performance indicators and unit-based learning objectives. The model identifies standards in each of the Guiding Principles and the Content Areas that every student must meet in order to graduate. These are standards that, if not met, will cause schools  to deny a diploma.

This model, includes four levels of learning expectations:

  • Guiding Principles Standards. The five standards of the Guiding Principles of the Maine Learning Results. These five standards are assessed over the duration of a student’s education. Students demonstrate achievement through a body of evidence. Schools may elect to add expectations to the Guiding Principles standards. Educators sometimes refer to these standards as cross-curricular standards.
  • Content-Area Reporting  Standards. The content area standards that schools use to report proficiency of the standards of Maine’s learning targets identified in the Maine Learning Results and Maine’s updated standards for English language arts and mathematics. These standards represent the core set of essential learning expectations students must meet in order to graduate. These must be inclusive of and aligned with the standards outlined in the Maine Learning Results and the updated English language arts and mathematics standards. Schools may elect to add expectations to content area standards and may reorganize the standards for reporting proficiency for the purpose of awarding a proficiency based diploma.
  • Performance Indicators. The statements describing the depth and breadth of the content area standards. The Maine Learning Results provides these statements for career and education development, health education and physical education, science and technology, social studies, visual and performing arts, and world languages. The updated English language and mathmatics standards have comparable expectations. Performance indicators provide more specific descriptions of what it means to meet a content area standard. Usually, when students engage in a summative assessment aligned with a particular standard, it is at the performance indicator level against which they are assessed. It is the aggregate over time of a student’s performance against these performance indicators that collectively determine whether students have met their related standard. Schools may elect to add expectations to performance indicators and may reorganize the performance indicators to report proficiency for the purpose of awarding a proficiency based diploma.
  • Unit-Based Learning Objectives. The teacher-identified components of the performance indicators that guide the day-to-day lessons are designed to move students toward proficiency. Formative assessments are linked to the unit-based learning objectives and provide educators with feedback about student progress toward the performance indicators.

The PBLS Model