D1. Proficiency Based Learning and Graduation Requirements

  • Policy Code: D1

    First Reading: April 18, 2017
    Second Reading: May 16, 2017
    Adopted: May 16, 2017


    Proficiency-based learning (PBL) refers to systems of instruction, assessment, grading and academic reporting that are based on students demonstrating mastery of the knowledge and skills they are expected to learn. 

    Proficiency-based Graduation Requirements (PBGR) are the set of proficiencies that the district determines a student will demonstrate before earning a high school diploma. For the purposes of this policy, these terms are synonymous with other related terms such as standards-based learning (SBL), standards-based reporting (SBR), competency based assessment (CBA) and mastery learning.


    In accordance with VT State Board of Education, Education Quality Standards Rule 2000 (as adopted in 2014), beginning with the class of 2020, a student will graduate from the Essex Westford School District upon demonstrating evidence of proficiency of Vermont State Standards and in the curriculum outlined in Vermont Education Quality Standards 2120.5. Curriculum Content.

    Flexible Pathways

    Students may demonstrate that they have met the graduation requirements in a number of ways. Students must be allowed to demonstrate proficiency by presenting multiple types of evidence, including but not limited to teacher- or student-designed assessments, portfolios, performances, exhibitions and projects.

    When a school assigns credits to courses, the credits must specify the proficiencies demonstrated in order to attain a credit and must not be based on time spent in learning. Further, students may receive credit for learning that takes place outside of the school, the school day, or the classroom. Any credits earned in these settings must occur under the supervision of an appropriately licensed educator.

    Students who are unable to demonstrate proficiency required for graduation will be provided with access to supports in order to have the opportunity to demonstrate proficiency.

    For students eligible for special education services under IDEA or protected by Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act, the student shall meet the same graduation requirements as nondisabled peers in an accommodated and/or modified manner. These modifications will be documented in each student's Plan. The Individual Education Program (IEP) team or 504 team is responsible for ensuring that information regarding the student's individual skills, aptitudes and present levels of performance are incorporated into the student's Plan.

    This shall ensure that the proficiency levels to meet graduation requirements are linked to local graduation requirements, individually accommodated and/or modified for students with disabilities and shall ensure that any student identified as a student with a disability will receive a regular high school diploma after meeting his/her individual graduation requirements as outlined by his/her Plan.

    Responsibilities of the Superintendent

    The superintendent shall develop procedures to ensure that:

      • The PBGRs described in this policy reflect the learning standards adopted by the State Board of Education.
      • Information regarding PBGR implementation and assessment is provided to students and parents at least annually.
      • Students are being assessed as proficient against the comprehensive set of district proficiencies set forth in policy and procedure prior to their receipt of a high school diploma.
      • Course credits, if used, will specify the proficiencies demonstrated to attain that credit, and those proficiencies will align with district policy and procedures.
      • Student learning outcomes attained through Flexible Pathways opportunities (including career and technical education, virtual learning, work-based learning, service learning, dual enrollment, and early college) are linked clearly to expectations of proficiency identified in district policy and procedures.
      • All students will demonstrate the proficiencies set forth in policy and procedures, with accommodations or modifications being provided for students who require them under an IEP or 504 plan. Learning opportunities identified in students’ Plans are aligned with expectations of proficiency identified in district policy and procedure.