DoE High School Diploma Standards Fact Sheet (updated)

High School Diploma Standards [updated, 5/15/2009]


“Seat time” vs. “Depth of Knowledge”


Current Requirements

Proposed Requirements (LD 1325)


  • Four year program of instruction
  • 2 years of math
  • 4 years of English
  • 2 years of social studies and history, including American history and government
  • 2 years of science, including at least one year of laboratory study
  • 1 year of fine arts
  • 1 year of physical education
  • ½ year of health education


Learning experiences in all 8 content areas, with Career & Education Development integrated into the other seven.


A. “Meet” the standards in 4 common areas

  • English Language Arts
  • Math
  • Science & Technology
  • Social Studies


B. “Meet” the standards in a fifth content area1

  • Health Education and Physical Education; or
  • Visual and Performing Arts; or
  • World Languages


C. Students must then “partially meet”2 standards in the other two content areas in B, above1.


1Career and Technical Education students could substitute for their fifth standard (B, above) to meet the recognized standards of a national industry. They would then be required to partially meet standards in the other three areas.


2“Meet” and “partially meet” have yet to be defined, but would require evidence of some level of proficiency, as opposed to simply “seat time.” The proposed graduation requirements would enhance the requirements for world languages, visual and performing arts, and health and physical education.


One pathway – students take prescribed number of courses/hours to achieve diploma.


Multiple pathways – students could meet the standards through multiple paths, including:

  • Alternative programs
  • Adult education
  • Apprenticeships
  • Career academies
  • Virtual learning
  • Dual enrollment (college & HS)


Students follow prescribed learning structure.


Students participate in developing a Personal Learning Plan (PLP) in collaboration with teachers, parents, others. The PLP is linked to college (post-secondary education), career, and citizenship.


No required system of intervention.


“Failure is not an option” - Schools must develop systems of intervention that are specific, timely, and based on ongoing “formative” assessments. Teachers monitor progress throughout the day; when a teacher observes a student having difficulty, it prompts an intervention, such as: study group; re-teaching; computer-assisted instruction; hands-on investigation.


Me. Dept. of Ed. Rules, Ch. 127 states that beginning 2006-07 SAUs will issue diplomas based on credits and achievement standards. (No further guidance.)


Timeline - Students in the Class of 2016 (entering high school in fall 2012) would be the first awarded a standards-based diploma.


Locally-determined assessments; no guidance in law or regulation.


Multiple Measures – Move to a balance of multiple varied assessments, including paper/pencil tests, portfolios, performance, projects, local-level assessments, etc.  Maine DOE, in conjunction with a working group of stakeholders, will develop rubrics and model assessments. Classroom assessments are to be used as one of the measures.

Ed Committee work session on diploma standards LD 1325

LD 1325 Diploma standards
work session
Friday, May 15

Alfond: first of many work sessions. Need to get a lot more comfortable. Lot of people talking about how unclear this bill is.

Lovejoy: heard a lot of testimony, some in favor, some not. Standards need a lot more work to be clearly defined. Can votes for this as it sits today.

Finch: Senator Alfond is right on. Complicated bill with a lot of questions. What a good way to get a handle on this? If taken as written, what would this mean to a student? Can we take a student through this proces to explain how a diploma is earned.

Alfond: Could do that. Need sense from Committee on what people need over the next few weeks?

Nelson: Need to be careful and deliberate. Concerned about arts component.

Sutherland: Might have unduly alarmed teachers, parents, and legislators about term "partially meets". If art were required.... Standard for art might require two years of time. My issue is do we wait for Department to put standards together without knowing we're going to approve them. Would be happier if school people knew what the standards are before voting.

McFadden: Seemed most testimony was against this bill. What's broken? Why do we need to change?

Nelson: Two points. One is developing standards: how are these developed and who are stakeholders. Two: consequences relative to staffing and abilities of high schools to deliver what we require.

Johnson: Not the right time to proceed. Requires more time and reflection. People that I trust are telling me they're not ready. Must understand implications of what we're doing before we do it.

Richardson: Echo Rep Johnson. Look forward to discussion and see some value in it. But a lot on plates right now.

Casavant: Import to also consider delivery of services within the classroom. If we go along with bill, is it practical and feasible to deliver -- e.g. personal learning plans.

Weston: Agree that moving from seat time to meeting certain standards is right thing and we're a little late in doing that. We don;t yet understand if learning results align with assessments. Don't know how new learning results look compared to old. Need to understand how guiding principals line up with assessments. On top of that we're looking at chapter 131 rules. Need to see how that all interacts so we can see success.

Finch: Phrase "seat time" I find objectionable. Implication is that all student needs to go to get a diploma is sit in seat. That's an injustice to all the teachers in this state. All teachers have standards. Wish we could declare an embargo on that term "seat time."

Schneider: Started getting concerned calls some time ago about arts education. If it were up to me, I would first say, yes we have a broken system. We hae a serious frightening problem. Have to compete globally. Have to prepare students properly for future. Would prefer a different approach --- to make everyone literate in the "stem" fields. Already behind. Prefer to look at as opportunity. Take stem fields how can we can take all to inspire students. How can we use standards to achieve goals. Financial undertstanding? Geography?

Casavant: Started teaching in 1976. Didn't fail my first student until well into the 80s. Rate of failure is increasing. Reason is students don't do anything. Keep having this sense that there's a bigger issue. Problem is bigger than just curriculum. It's not just a problem in Maine; it's a national problem. Keep that in mind.

Lovejoy: Are we going to hold the high schools responsible for all the students who get in but aren't doing anything. Recommend tabling.

Rankin: Not a teacher, never was. But have worked in education. All true. Problems begin before high school. Can't spell; can't read. Why don't we know the standards? I'd like to know the standards too.

Finch: Standards for getting a high school diploma put burden on high schools. No requirements made to elementary schools. Phrase used to be 'social promotion'. If we made requirement that no students could go from 4th to 5th grade, all hell would break loose. This bill only addresses high school.

Alfond: Do we have authority to carry this over: yes we do. Leadership has given us flexibility to work this bill through.

Lovejoy: Have no problems with this. Don't won;t to vote on it today. It's a huge project. Have to start learning results in grade 1. Have to make sure kids are meeting standards all the way through. IF we can do this before the end of session that great. But there's a lot to be done.

Wagner: Appreciate what you're suggesting. Worst thing to do would be inaction. Should clearly lay out a strategy.

Weston: [Introduces students from Mount View School in Thorndike]

Alfond: Goal for today is to learn history of learning results. What are current standards and how are they linked to graduation requirements? What's wrong with current system, is it broken. Can we address just those three things today?



Commissioner: to give you information on learning results, can show with projector. Maine Learning results evolved in late 1980s charge to Dept to create a common core that defined what we wanted students to learn and do. Legislature charge Dept to deine skills that we wanted student to have to earn HS diploma. 8 content areas. What happened at that time -- Rep Finch has mentioned -- content panels were brought together for K-12. Created grade spans, recognizing that students grow at different rates. Within structure, wich has stayed the same, we defined content standards. Underneath each is a prefromance indicator -- What are we looking for to indicate that students hae achieved standards.

In the 90s charged each local school system to develop local assessment usuing local measures. MEA would be one of these. Department made sure that matched learning results.


Nelson: Were local assessments send to Department and evaluated?

Commissioner: No. In 1990s all districts had to align their curriculum to learning results. Revamped curriculums to meet 8 content areas.