Additional Resources on Proficiency-based Learning

Feel free to contact us with questions about PBGRs, or to let us know that you’d like to participate in a school visit day or view a student’s exhibition of learning.  Following is a list of further resources and information about proficiency-based learning.

Research Reports on Proficiencies:

1. New York Performance Assessment Standards Consortium Data Report

This concise, compelling data report gives information about how the Consortium Schools work, including examples of Performance Tasks and Rubrics. It also gives data to testify to the schools’ successes, including:

  • Their teacher turnover rate for teachers with less than 5 years experience is 15%, compared with 58% in other NYC schools
  • 86% of African-American male graduates from Consortium schools go on to college, compared with 37% nationally.
  • The ELL graduation rate is 69.5% compared with 39.7% for the rest of NYC schools. (I know that neither of those numbers are ideal, but the Consortium schools have almost double the ELL graduation rate for NYC — an incredible feat!)
  • The graduation rate for students with special needs is 50% from Consortium schools, compared with 24.7% for other NYC schools.

Click here for full report.


2. Ready for the Future:  The Role of Performance Assessments in Shaping Graduates’ Academic, Professional and Personal Lives by Laurie Gagnon

Excerpt from the report’s abstract:  “The perspectives of graduates offer a valuable source of understanding for educators and policy-makers on how to ensure high quality educational pathways that prepare all students for work and college… Overall, despite a few challenge areas, graduates who were interviewed say the study schools’ performance assessment systems contributed to their success in college and the world of work.  Performance assessments helped students who participated in the study to discover their own learning styles, to learn academic content and skills, and to develop critical thinking, communication, and real world skills.”

Click here for the full report.


Background Information on PBGRs:

The Vermont Proficiency-Based Graduation Google Site has many materials on understanding PBGRs. Some of this information is also reproduced below:

Leadership in Action Brief:  Proficiency-Based Diploma
This brief information packet from the New England Secondary Schools Consortium (NESSC) does a great job of concisely laying out the history and philosophy underlying a desire to move to a Proficiency-Based Diploma.

“A Diploma Worth Having” by Grant Wiggins
This is a great article that lays out some of the history of the development of our current graduation requirements, along with the fact that there have always been competing versions of what students should know and be able to do.  It does a great job of causing the reader to reflect on what is really important and how that can be reflected in our high school graduation requirements.

This American Life:  Back to School
This episode of This American Life begins with a conversation about what students should learn in school, introducing the idea of “academic” skills which may be easily measured by tests and “non-cognitive” skills, which are better indicators of future success but less easily measured.  It pays particular attention to students who have dealt with trauma, how that often impairs school success, and what schools can do to help all students succeed.  Although not specifically about PBGRs, this opens up the conversation of what the goals of a high school diploma should be.

Tony Wagner’s Ted Talk 
In this talk, Wagner concisely challenges the label of “failing” schools, saying instead that our overall school model is obsolete, and gives some pointers on how to move forward.  From his extensive research, he identifies seven key skills for success in college, career, and citizenship.  He also explains how the culture of school is at odds with the culture of learning.  He paints a picture of the need for innovation and identifies play, passion, and purpose as means to develop innovation in our young people.

Examples of PBGRs in Practice in Vermont and Beyond: