In this March 8, 2017, file photo, Maine Gov. Paul LePage speaks at a town hall meeting in Yarmouth, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty | AP

Students in Maine will no longer be required to graduate under new “proficiency-based” diplomas.

Gov. Paul LePage Friday signed a bill into law repealing the state’s diploma mandate, which originally went into effect six years ago.

Under the old law, Maine students, beginning in the class of 2021, would have been required to reach “proficiency” in up to eight subject areas in order to graduate. Teachers and parents criticized the policy, saying it was too demanding for educators and wouldn’t allow some students to graduate.

Republican Rep. Heidi Sampson of Alfred said the law passed Friday will ease that burden.

“We now can let teachers teach,” she said. “And the students can learn. Because the teachers, who are closest to the kids, know what they need. And they can meet those needs now.”

However, some school officials and advocates are disappointed. Ed Cervone is the director of Educate Maine, a business-led education advocacy group. He said repealing the diploma mandate doesn’t fix the problem that many students graduate high school unprepared for college or a career.

“We all got into this because we wanted to help kids do better,” he said. “And we don’t see how this decision actually helps kids do better.”

Some districts in the state already use proficiency-based diplomas. The new law will allow schools to keep using the diploma system if they want to, just without a state mandate.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.

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