Proficiency Based Education

Also know as PBGR (Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements), PBE (Proficiency Based Education), PBG (Proficiency Based Grading)

What is a Proficiency-Based Curriculum?

Proficiency based education is based on broad, system-wide curriculum aligned with specific learning standards. The curriculum is created as a way to prescribe the specifics of what to teach at each grade level. The curriculum is aligned with learning standards that have been developed, or adopted by, the Vermont Agency of Education. Under a proficiency-based curriculum, these learning standards must be presented in a clear, prescribed sequence to our students.

What are the benefits of proficiency-based education?

Students report that they understand expectations more clearly and can identify their own strengths and weaknesses in relation to those expectations. Students are better able to connect what they are doing in a classroom activity or assignment to the acquisition of skills and knowledge. What educators are seeing is increased students engagement, increased personalization of instruction, and increased targeting of interventions to the specific needs of students. Educators also report that implementation of a proficiency-based system leads to greater collaboration within and across schools, more reflective practice, and a greater capacity to respond to the individual needs of students.

How will this impact learning in the classroom?

The teacher communicates essential questions and learning targets that relate to the standards in a transparent way so that student, teacher and parent can all be active participants in the learning process. The teacher relies heavily upon daily formative assessment techniques as a means of directing the course of instruction for the individual student and the class. The teacher uses formative and summative assessment methods to monitor student progress and measure achievement of the learning standards.

From BRHSMS Newsletter ~ August 2017

Over the course of the past two years, Black River and Green Mountain faculty have worked with to create a clear and coherent structure for Common Core proficiencies. This process has been facilitated by Michael Eppolito, TRSU Curriculum Co-ordinator, with the stated goal:

To create a system where students know what they need to learn, criteria for success are clear and transparent and students are empowered to claim their education through flexible and personalized pathways.

The outcome of this work is the division of proficiencies into three categories:

    • Graduation Requirements (Enduring Proficiencies): These are proficiencies every student must master in order to graduate.
    • Important: These are proficiencies that students need in order to master the Graduation Requirements. These are proficiencies build skills over time and lead to success in other learning.
    • Specialized: These are proficiencies that students need in order to pursue learning in a particular field of study.

Most courses will have proficiencies in at least two of these categories. Students, you will need to master the Graduation Requirements/Enduring Proficiencies. You may also need to master the Important or Specialized standards in order to meet proficiencies you will encounter later on.



Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.

The ability to write a narrative is a Graduation Requirement/Enduring Proficiency. In order to be proficient, a student must be able to:

    • Address the prompt/assignment
    • Engage and orient the reader by establishing context/setting and point of view
    • Introduce a narrator and/or characters
    • Organize a clear event sequence that unfolds logically and naturally
    • Use a variety of transitional techniques to signal shift from one time frame or setting to another
    • Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on the narrated experiences or events
    • Effectively use a variety of narrative techniques such as dialogue, pacing and description to develop experiences, events, and/or characters
    • Use precise words for descriptive details and sensory language to capture action and convey experiences and events
    • Use correct and varied sentence structure
    • Ensure writing contains few minor errors in conventions
    • Utilize strong appropriate word choice

That’s a lot of Important proficiencies you need to master. The good news is that these proficiencies started way back in elementary school. Remember all that spelling and grammar you did in third grade? And fourth grade? And for all those other grades? All that builds so that you have the proficiencies needed to master a narrative. You’re going to build on skills you already have, become proficient in a few more, and there you have it: mastery of the narrative.

So what happens if you don’t master the Use correct and varied sentence structure proficiency? Or the narrative, for that matter? DON’T WORRY. You have multiple chances with lots of support to master the proficiencies in your classes. There are also opportunities built into the school day (like IMPACT) and you can demonstrate mastery in another class - maybe in History or Science. Teachers are also available after school.