A measure to give communities more control over high school graduation requirements is now law.
“As any teacher knows, students come to class with different abilities and disabilities,” said Rep. Tori Kornfield, D-Bangor, House chair of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee and the bill’s sponsor. “A teacher’s job is to meet them where they are and help them to grow as much as possible. Having one standard for everyone is not educationally sound. Some students would meet the standard in seventh grade and some students, who come every day and work their hardest, would never meet the standard and therefore not receive a diploma.”
The law change allows school districts to choose whether or not to require proficiency-based standards for graduation as previously mandated by a 2012 law. Those requirements had been set to apply to the class of 2021, which has now completed its freshman year, even though many school districts were not prepared to use them.
Kornfield, a lifelong educator who taught for 30 years at Bangor High School, said the new law does not end proficiency-based education.
“The new law allows school boards to decide on their own graduation requirements,” said Kornfield. “That means they can move forward with implementation of proficiency-based diplomas if they choose but can also postpone implementation or use alternative graduation standards if that’s what is best for their students.”
In its final form, LD 1666 was the result of bipartisan efforts by the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee to prevent negative impacts due to a one-size-fits-all transition to proficiency-based standards.
The bill was signed into law by Gov. Paul LePage. It will take effect 90 days after adjournment of the current legislative session.
Kornfield is serving her third term in the Maine House. She represents part of Bangor.