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As a building, Freeport Middle School is always looking to improve what we do in the classroom.  We continuously revamp our lessons, units, instruction and curriculum.  Over the past six years we have all been working hard to improve student learning with many hands-on projects, and interdisciplinary and expeditionary units to help raise the bar of expectations and engage students. When we look at the state and national test scores of middle school students, we feel the instructional changes at the middle school have been very successful for our kids.  Click here for more information on our curriculum, assessments, instruction and grading.   If you have questions about our curriculum, please contact the teachers or principal.

We look at many data points along the way to help provide feedback on our progress.  In 2013-14 we were 8.5% above the state average on required state assessments. In 2015-2017 we are 14% above the state average on the MEA.  This was good feedback to let us know we are heading in the right direction. 

The NWEA, a national assessment for math and reading is just one of the assessments RSU5 students take. Prior to 2011 – 2013 our students met their goals at a rate of 57% (40-60%).  Once we began connecting and grading based on the new national and state standards this past year 63.5% students met their growth goals.

Proficiency-based education is a successful educational reform.  It helps students at all levels improve, and as such is now a State requirement for High School graduation in Maine. Proficiency gives a clearer picture of how a child is doing as a learner on several fronts. One of the key tenets is the separation of effort, organization, and time management type skills from the actual outcome.  These important learning skills are scored separately under the title Habits of Work. For more information on Proficiency-based learning click here.

Example: Parachute Preparing Course with 3 students

Student 1- Starts the class knowing nothing, does not do his homework the first few classes, and can not prepare a parachute for a jump.  Midway through the class he really starts to understand the material.  At the end of the course, he is the best parachute preparer in the class and can do it perfectly every time.  In a proficiency system, he would have a “3” for preparing the parachute and a “2” for habits of work.  In a traditional system, he may have scored a “C”.

Student 2 - The second student works very hard, does all her homework, and very positively participates in class.  Every time she prepares the parachute she gets most parts correct.  In a proficiency system she would get a “3 or 4” for their habits of work, but a “2” for preparing a parachute.  In a traditional system, she may get a “D” on the parachute, but the homework and class participation brings the grade up to “C”.  

Student 3 - This student works hard, does all his homework and positively participates in class.  Half the time when he prepares the parachute it is perfect, half the time it is not.  In a proficiency system, they would have “2” for parachute because they can’t meet the standards every time, and a “3” or “4” in Habits of Work.  In a traditional system, this student would have a “C”.   

In a traditional system, all students would earn a “C”, yet only one could consistently prepare a parachute.  Which student do you want preparing your parachute? In a proficiency system, only one student earned a “3” for preparing a parachute.   But more importantly, the instructor knows who needs an opportunity to keep learning the necessary skills to meet the standard.  

Proficiency-based education can give students and parents a better understanding of how they are progressing compared to national standards.  The grade they receive on each standard is only based on how they understand and can apply the content.  The Habits of Work (HoW) score shows how they are doing in areas like timeliness, organization, homework completion, participation, and persistence.  These skills are not calculated into the final grade, but are equally if not more important in communicating about your child as a learner.   

Another example of proficiency-based education:

If you are entering a chocolate chip cookie contest, and you are making practice batches before the big contest, what kind of feedback do you want?  Do you want just a letter grade on how the cookie is?  Or would you rather have the grade broken down further based on overall tastiness, chewiness, chips, texture, appearance, and creativity?

In a traditional grading system, you would have only received a single grade for ELA.   If you have a strong writer they may earn a “B”, because they had an “A” on writing, and “A” on language usage, “B” on Speaking and Listening, and “F” on Reading Comprehension.  A parent or student may look at the the “B” and think their child is doing well and not look into how they are doing deeper.  

The Common Core grading breaks down ELA into 5 sections: Reading Comprehension, Writing, Language Usage, and Speaking and Listening. In a Proficiency system, the child work have “4s” in Writing and Language usage. A “3” in Speaking and Listening and a “2” in Reading Comprehension.  The parent and student both know the student is not at grade level for reading.

The total grade is an average of the recent scores on all of the standards, not an average of the assignment scores.   If a particular standard is assessed in September as a 2 (partially meets), then twice in October as a 3 (meets), but in November it is a 4 (exceeds), the average for the standard would not be a 3, it would be closer to 3.4, because the most current level of performance counts the most. This is to make sure the grades you see accurately reflect where your child is academically compared to the standards at any point in time.  The standards are assessed based on where we would expect to be achieving at that time of the year.  What may earn a child “3” in September, is not the same as would earn a child a “3” in May.

Proficiency-based education gives the students and parents a better understanding of how they are progressing compared to national standards.  The grade they receive on the standards is just based on how they understand and can apply the content.  The Habits of Work (HoW) appear for each class at the bottom of the standards.  These skills are not calculated into the final grade, but are equally if not more important about how your child is doing.   

The first page in PowerSchool lists all of your child’s classes. Click on expand all and you can see all of their grades.  You can also see their current progress report by click on report cards.  On the grades and attendance tab you can click on any grade in a class to see all of their assignments and grades for those assignments.