Questions STUDENTS Often Ask:
I'm a high school student, what does all of this mean for me?
If you are currently a high school Junior or Senior it is likely you've already taken advantage of Dual Enrollment or The Early College Program, although it is unlikely you will create your own PLP. Incoming Freshman in particular should expect to develop Personalized Learning Plans and take advantage of the amazing opportunities Vermont provides!
How will I distinguish myself from my peers without grades?
With the enactment of Act 77 high school credit will not longer be earned by the amount of time spent in a particular class. Rather, there is a set of proficiencies all students will meet. How students choose to demonstrate proficiency is entirely up to them, and can be a way to distinguish themselves.
Will students be at a disadvantage when applying to college?
Students will not be at a disadvantage when applying to colleges. Colleges and universities deal with different types of school systems all the time. For years they have been admitting homeschooled students who do not have grades, credits or GPAs. Additionally, all state colleges and universities in Vermont and many in New England are on board with the proficiency-based graduation system.
Questions PARENTS often ask:
Why is Vermont remodeling its educational system?
To prepare for our future as a community in an increasingly global, complex, and fast-changing society, dramatic change in our educational system is needed. We have left the Industrial Age and mass production, and yet education in most places an assembly line approach to education still prevails. There is broad agreement in our society that change is necessary.
Fortunately, we are not starting from scratch. Perhaps the best way to put it is to say that we are “remodeling” our educational system, much as one would remodel a house. When you remodel a house, you do more than just repaint it: you make substantial changes, keeping the previous shape of the house, but updating old parts, and making the house more modern and efficient.
Right now Vermont’s educational system—like most school systems around the country—must be brought “up to code” to meet the demands of our rapidly changing society. The bad news is that remodeling creates temporary dust, noise, and inconvenience, but the good news is that when you remodel you don’t have to blow anything up—you strengthen what’s working and fix what’s not. It takes some time and patience, but the results will benefit our state for generations to come.
What does proficiency mean?
In a proficiency-based system, graduation is based not on how much time students have spent in school, but rather, what they can demonstrate that they have learned.
Proficiency-based learning also encourages students who have mastered a subject and are ready for new challenges to move forward; students who need extra time to reach proficiency will be given that extra time. Students typically work with their teachers to design how to measure their progress—whether via a test, an exhibition or portfolio, or some other regular form of feedback.
Proficiency- based learning is grounded in the under- standing that all students can and will learn the same important knowledge and skills needed for future success, but some will take more time and some will need different ways of learning and demonstrating that learning.
In a proficiency-based system, students will know what they need to accomplish to reach proficiency, but they are afforded the opportunity to choose the order in which they want to reach their learning targets and they will also have some say over how they will reach proficiency.
What will my child's day at school look like?
Your child's high school day will depend on his or her Personalized Learning Plan (PLP). Most students (especially before they receive their driver's license) will take Twinfield courses, create studies through Renaissance or online courses). However, if your child designs an internship or apprenticeship through Renaissance, takes a dual enrollment class, goes to Barre Tech or any other program, they will come and go to Twinfield as per their schedule.
How will proficiency-based education effect my child's transcript and their ability to get into college?
A proficiency-based transcript does look different than a transcript with grades. But the different transcript will not effect your child's ability to get into college.
What is the history of Vermont educational reform leading up to Act 77?
Vermont has a long and rich history of education redesign, most recently culminating in the passage of Act 77 in 2013. The roots of this legislation can be traced back to Vermont resident John Dewey, born in Burlington in 1859. He was a domi- nant figure in American education, founding the progressive education movement nationally and internationally. His belief in the importance of active learning has informed school redesign for the past century.
“High Schools on the Move” (2002) captured Twelve Principles of redesign that remain at the heart of this new legislation. This publication was the culminating document of a State Board of Education taskforce that was asked to address “the critical issues facing Vermont high schools.” This was followed by Act 44 in 2009, which referenced “Flexible Pathways to Graduation” and focused on increasing graduation rates in the state to 100 percent by 2020. In 2011, the Agency of Edu- cation conducted an informal study to further both flexible learning pathways and proficiency-based graduation models, resulting in a Policy Research Team Final Report.
Governor Shumlin elevated education redesign as a priority in the 2012 opening session of the Vermont Legislature. This set in motion a two-year process to enact Act 77, which became law in July of 2013. Vermont has one of the most advanced, research-based education agendas in the country.