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Penobscot Bay Press
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News Feature

Deer Isle & Stonington
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, March 6, 2014
Parents of incoming DISHS freshmen to learn of new programs at transition discussion

by Todd West, Principal

Parents of eighth grade students entering Deer Isle-Stonington High School next year are invited to a discussion on the transition to high school at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 11, in the DISHS cafeteria. Guidance counselor Sandy Robinson will explain the process of signing up for courses and building a personalized four-year course of studies that will help each student be ready for a range of post-secondary options. Information on the Marine Studies Pathway, Arts Pathway, Bridge courses and proficiency-based learning will also be shared.

Deer Isle-Stonington High School seeks to create a school in which each student who enters high school earns a diploma and graduates prepared for a variety of post-secondary options, including both college and modern, fulfilling careers. In order to help ensure that all students graduate prepared for college and career, DISHS is implementing some exciting initiatives that will motivate and inspire today’s students, while equipping them with the practical skills they will need to succeed in every area of adult life.

Over the next five years, we will transition to a system of “proficiency-based learning”—teaching the most essential skills students will need and then ensuring that students actually learn those skills. Students will need to demonstrate proficiency in these critical skills in order to earn a high school diploma. By providing multiple and flexible pathways to a high school diploma, including the Marine Studies, Arts and eventually Health Care Pathways, students and parents will be able to personalize their school experience so that it better matches the student’s strengths, interests, and aspirations. Because DISHS students will achieve the same state and national learning standards as other students, parents can feel confident graduates will leave our high school prepared to succeed in college and whatever careers they may choose.

One barrier to students succeeding at the high school level is students entering ninth grade without having mastered essential skills in the middle school curriculum. These students are not fully prepared for success in the high school curriculum, especially a proficiency-based curriculum in which students must demonstrate basic mastery of high school learning standards before moving on to the next level of learning. To help prepare all students to be successful in the high school curriculum and ultimately graduate prepared for college and career, DISHS is implementing a series of “Bridge” courses, primarily for ninth grade students, who have not yet demonstrated basic proficiency in the essential skills and concepts of the middle level curricula for reading, writing, math, and social studies. The overall goal of the Bridge Program is not to set students back, but to catch them up and close proficiency gaps so that they can be successful in all aspects of adult life.

For more information on the eighth grade parent night, please contact guidance counselor Sandy Robinson (348-2288; For information on Pathways, proficiency-based learning, and Bridge courses, please contact principal Todd West (348-2303; />