Welcome to the Kennebec Intra-District Schools (KIDS) regional school unit web site. The school unit is made up of schools in the towns of Dresden, Farmingdale, Hallowell, Monmouth, and Richmond. The vision of RSU2 is to be a system of student-centered learning.
RSU2’s mission is to cultivate hope in all learners.
We believe that hope, engagement, and well-being is as important as content knowledge, and we do that by designing our schools to teach our learners of all ages the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to be successful when they leave us at graduation.
Some frequently asked questions are below.
1. What is proficiency-based education?
RSU2 defines proficiency has “having sufficient knowledge or skills for some purpose”. This definition fits at every level, from kindergarten through graduation, and all targets have a purpose embedded within them.
Proficiency-based education is based on a clear assumption that schooling should be focused on the learners. It is the difference between being school-centric and learner-centric. RSU2 is committed to becoming a learner-centered model of education.
In a school-centered paradigm, the assumption is that education happens in a school. So, when we improve the school, we improve education. The basic question from a school-centered perspective is: What will make this school more efficient and effective in the task of schooling our young people? Follow-up questions include: How should a school be organized? How do we ensure this school is meeting its goals? How come some schools do better than others? In a school-centered paradigm, the school is placed at the center of our thinking, without considering any alternative.
By contrast, in a learner-centered paradigm, the unique learner is placed at the center. When you put the learner at the center of every decision, you are in a different world. The basic question from a learner-centered perspective is: Who is this learner, and what will support each learner in the task of their learning? Follow-up questions include: How do we ensure that each learner can meet their goals? How do we create a system that allows each particular learner to learn in the way they learn best? How come some learners are moving at a different pace than others? Does this system allow each learner to learn at an appropriate pace for them at each point along their journey? Are learners able to group and re-group, so they are appropriately challenged and engaged?
(image and some text credit: Education Reimagined)
2. How does RSU2 support proficiency-based learning in the schools?
RSU2 has ten schools across five towns, and each school is slightly different in how it approaches the district mission. However, every school incorporates the five tenets of something we call “applied learning”.
3. What is “applied learning”, and how is it different from the other schools?
RSU2 has five tenets of applied learning.
- Classroom culture that encourages learner agency
- Clear targets in a good progression
- Gathering evidence to provide feedback to the target
- Learners engaged in learning that is in their zone of proximal development and interest
- Learning is applied and not simply tested.
What makes RSU2 different from other districts are these five tenets that are research-based, learner-centered, and focused on the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that learners need to be successful after they graduate. All of the work done in RSU2 is connected back to these five tenets of applied learning.
4. What are “measurement topics” and “learning targets”?
RSU2 has a system of measurement topics and learning targets based on the research of Dr. Robert Marzano, a leading educational researcher. A measurement topic is a general topic, such as Reading: Informational Text: Supporting Thinking With Evidence; Algebra: Interpreting Functions; Creating: Plan & Make; or Life Science: Biodiversity and Evolution. These measurement topics are then broken down into specific learning targets, such as “understands why some organisms that once lived on Earth have completely disappeared”; “is skilled at performing music, alone or with others, with expression and technical accuracy, and appropriate interpretation”; or “understands how government policy and taxation impact the economy”.
5. What about levels of rigor for my children?
Every learning target in our progression has a level of rigor attached and is broken down even further. The examples given above in question four are our 3.0-level targets.
All targets are broken down into two levels: 2.0 is considered the foundational knowledge and/or skills for a target, while 3.0 is considered the complex knowledge and/or skills for a target, and is required of all targets for proficiency.
Every target also has a level of rigor attached to it, so the expectations for the learners are upfront and transparent. RSU2 uses a hierarchical taxonomy as shown below. We believe that making the learning transparent and the expectations clear meets one of our five tenets above (specifically, tenet one: clear targets in a good progression).
6. How do my children earn grades?
In RSU2, it’s not about the grades - it’s about gathering evidence to provide feedback towards learning targets, and moving on to the next target in the progression when there is a preponderance of evidence at the proficient level. As mentioned above, the targets are broken into foundational and complex levels. The generic scoring guide is below.
7. What does “zone of proximal development” mean?
The zone of proximal development is an area of learning that occurs when a person is assisted by a teacher or peer with a skill set higher than that of the subject. With our learning progressions at RSU2, learners are placed in their zone of proximal development (or ZPD) which means the learner isn’t asked to do something way over their heads, or something that is too easy for them. It’s the sweet spot for learners when they are in their ZPD, as they can figure out with a teacher’s help what they need to know or be skilled at in order to move on to the next target.
8. What does “applied and not simply tested” mean?
RSU2 believes education has moved on from the way most of us grew up; that is, the industrial age of schooling has ended. Sorting kids into different tracks, making it difficult to get out of those pre-determined tracks, putting kids into paths such as “college-bound”, “general”, “remedial”, “technical”, etc - that’s not the way it works in the 21st century. We need to prepare kids for anything that comes after they graduate from one of our schools.
In that case, we need to assess learning in different ways. It’s not just about paper and pencil tests anymore - there are multiple opportunities for learners to show evidence of learning at all levels. Those can be via presentations, multimedia reports, collaborative work with peers and teachers, and yes, paper-pencil tests. Any way learners can show evidence is okay by us.
9. Will my kids get into college? How does that all work with this system?
Rest assured, your kids will get into college. RSU2 has been working with this system since 2012, and our kids in all our communities are getting into colleges, usually their first choice.
Our transcript is a traditional-looking one, and our guidance counselors and career/college counselors work with the colleges your child applies to in order to get them the best possible information about your child, speaking to them individually if necessary. Our learners have gotten into schools from across the country (a partial list is below), and our system is not a hindrance nor a negative for your child.
American Institute of Applied Arts; Arkansas Tech; Baker University; Bates College; Becker College; Beloit College; Black Hills State College; Boston College; Boston University; Bowdoin College; Brandeis University; Breyer College; Bridgewater Sate University; Brigham Young University; Bryant University; Bunker Hill Community College; Cabrini College; Carnegie Mellon University; Castleton University; Campbell University; Cedarville University; Central Maine Community College; Central Maine School of Massage; Colby College; Colby Sawyer; Colgate University; Colleg of the Atlantic; College of the Holy Cross; College of Staten Island; Colorado College; Columbia College of Art; Connecticut Culinary Institute; Cornell University; Connecticut College; Drexel University; Eastern Maine Community College; Eastern Nazarene College; Elmira College; Embry Riddle Aeronautical University; Emmanuel College; Emerson College; Franklin Pierce University; Friends University; Full Sail University; Genesee Community College; Gordon College; Goucher College; Graceland University; Hellenic College; Hofstra University; Husson University; Ithaca College; Johnson and Wales University; Kalamazoo College; Keene State College; Kennebec Valley Community College; Keuka College; Lake Region Community College; Lasell University; LIM College; Lincoln Culinary College; Lyndon State College; Maine Maritime Academy; Maine College of Art; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Massachusetts Maritime Academy; Merrimack College; Mid-Atlantic Christian College; Middlebury College; Mount Holyoke College; Mount Ida College; New Brunswick Bible College; New England Culinary Institute; New England School of Metalworks; New Hampshire Technical College; New Jersey Institute of Technology; New York University; Norfolk University; Northeastern University; Northern Maine Community College; Norwich University; Notre Dame University; Old Dominion University; Pace University; Paul Smith’s College; Pensacola Christian University; Plymoouth State University; Quest University Canada; Quinnipiac College; Rhode Island School of Design; Roanoke College; Rochester Institute of Technology; Roger Williams University; Salve Regina University; Savannah College of Art and Design; Seton Hall University; Simmons College; Slippery Rock University; Smith College; Southern Maine Community College; Southern New Hampshire University; Springfield College; St Anselm College; St John's University; St Joseph’s College; Stonehill College; Suffolk University; Susquehanna University; Syracuse University; Thomas College; US Air Force Academy; US Coast Guard Academy; Unity College; Universal Technical Institute; University of Maine; University of Maine at Augusta; University of Maine at Farmington; University of Maine at Fort Kent; University of Maine at Machias; University of Maine at Presque Isle; University of Massachusetts at Amherst; University of New England; University of New Hampshire; University of Pennsylvania; University of Southern Maine; University of Vermont; University of Western Alabama; Washington County Community College; Washington State University; Wentworth Institute of Technology; West Point Prep; Western New England University; Wheaton College; Wheelock College; Williams College; Worcester Polytechnic Institute