School districts in Maine will now be allowed to choose whether to use proficiency-based diplomas or other graduation standards under a bill that has become law.

The law represents a significant rollback of the graduation standards that were going to be required for this year’s freshman class. Under a law passed in 2012, students would have been required to demonstrate proficiency in eight key areas – including math, English and science/technology – in order to graduate.

But the shift has proved controversial in some areas. After months of discussion and debate, lawmakers settled on a compromise that will enable school districts to choose whether to continue using proficiency-based standards or revert to the traditional system of courses, A-through-F grades and credits to qualify for graduation.

Gov. Paul LePage’s office said he signed the bill, L.D. 1666, into law on Friday.

“No longer can administrations force teachers and parents into compliance with policies that were never law,” Rep. Heidi Sampson, R-Alfred, who serves on the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “Nonprofit organizations that have been pushing proficiency-based diplomas for the past six years no longer have the law to use as leverage to force their agenda on Maine schools.”

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