Lessons From Oak Hill

"Lessons From Oak Hill" is a Maine Public Radio series looking at the changing landscape of education in Maine as schools prepare students to reach the state's new "proficiency-based" graduation requirements. Over the course of the school year, we'll look at the issues and promise of the new system through the eyes of students, parents and educators in a rural Maine school district.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

Starting three years from now, high school students in Maine won’t be able to graduate by just earning enough credits — they’ll need to have mastered a set of standards in subjects including math, English and science. Some schools are taking new approaches to help students meet the new proficiency standards — but some educators are still worried that a large percentage of students may not be able to make the grade.

Oak Hill High School Principal Marco Aliberti works with a student in English class as part of a revamped course structure in the school.
Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

Beginning this year, high school freshmen in Maine have to work toward a new kind of "proficiency-based" diploma. Under the new requirement, students must be "proficient" in a number of subjects by the time they reach their senior year. Reaching the standards is a tall order.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

In Oak Hill High School’s efforts to implement new, proficiency-based graduation requirements, one department is held up as a prime example of what this new kind of education should look like. It’s not math, English or science — but physical education.

Maine’s first-year high schoolers this year will make history. They will be the first class that needs to meet a new requirement in order to graduate four years from now — they’ll have to demonstrate that they are proficient in a number of standards in order to receive a diploma.

This is the first in an extended series of reports on how this law is changing the way schools operate called “Lessons From Oak Hill,” focusing on the experiences of Regional School Unit 4, northwest of Lewiston.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

Students entering high school this year in Maine will be the first in the country to graduate with a new kind of diploma. Instead of amassing a set number of credits, they’ll need to show that they’re “proficient” and meet certain standards.

It’s a change that’s been nearly a decade in the making. But some educators are still worried about what it will mean for students and teachers.