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VUHS establishing new specific diploma requirements

VERGENNES — Vergennes Union High School is moving toward a system that will require students to demonstrate mastery of a series of skills, known as “Performance Based Graduation Requirements,” in order to earn a diploma.
The school’s teachers, supported by a series of grants, have identified nine Performance Based Graduation Requirements, or PBGRs, that students should master. With support of VUHS and Addison Northwest Supervisory Union administrators, they continue to refine how that mastery should be expressed and how teachers should evaluate them (see related story).
Students will be required to track their progress in “graduation portfolios” that they will maintain throughout their high school careers at VUHS.
The class of 2016, now ninth-graders, will be the first to have any PBGR requirements. School officials said they will have to demonstrate mastery in four of the nine PBGRs, specifically Nos. 3, 4, 7 and one of each student’s choice (see below).
VUHS teacher Kristine Kirkaldy, a key coordinator of the VUHS effort, provided an overview statement and the list of the PBGRs to the Independent.
The overview statement reads, “In order to graduate, each VUHS learner creates and maintains a Graduation Portfolio that documents evidence of skills, knowledge and enduring understanding as an autonomous, lifelong learner. The Graduation Portfolio must show proficiency in each of the following requirements. Each learner will give a final presentation and defense of their portfolio in their senior year.”
The nine requirements, or PBGRs, are (not including specific steps outlined for students to take to “show proficiency”):
1. Each learner develops an understanding of personal wellness; his/her own strengths and weaknesses and applies this knowledge by identifying goals, setting priorities, managing progress, and future planning.
2. Each learner is an active and contributing member of local, state, national and global communities in which he/she works to develop a multi-faceted understanding of self, others and the natural world.
Critical Thinking:
3. Each learner utilizes inquiry and research to acquire, analyze, synthesize and evaluate information and ideas. Evidence and reflection are used to solve problems, justify conclusions and connect to enduring learning.
4. Each learner solves problems and/or conducts investigations using appropriate methodology in math and science for a variety of purposes and audiences.
5. Each learner reads, comprehends, and responds to a variety of texts and is an active member of a literate community.
6. Each learner creates or performs in, and responds with understanding to, the Fine Arts — framed by the criteria of purpose; process or practice; product or performance; and growth.
Communication:
7. Each learner uses written communication effectively and appropriately for a variety of audiences and purposes.
8. Each learner uses oral communication effectively and appropriately for a variety of audiences and purposes.
9. Each learner effectively uses technology to find, organize, and communicate information for a variety of purposes.”

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