BFA-St. Albans principal resigns amid proficiency-based grading controversy

Published: Oct. 23, 2019 at 6:11 PM EDT
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A Vermont high school principal has resigned amid growing tensions over the proficiency-based grading system.

Wednesday was BFA-St. Albans Principal Chris Mosca's last day at school, after telling students about his departure via email Tuesday night.

"I feel bad. I feel like in this situation he's been kind of been put as like a scapegoat," said Kyle Courtois, a BFA-St. Albans senior.

Since the beginning of this school year, the school's seniors and parents have been working with Mosca to ensure their transcripts are ready for college applications. "It's no secret the last few weeks really have been a challenge," Mosca said.

Over the last few weeks the BFA administration has distributed three versions of transcripts, each incorporating improvements to better reflect students' abilities under the proficiency-based learning system.

"Instructionally, we did a very good job. I think the difficulty was in the scoring, recording and reporting of the student achievement. And it's unfortunate because that became more of the focus than the rich instructional conversations that you can have when you start looking at what are the very clear outcomes and skills that you want all kids to know and all kids to be able to do," Mosca said.

He says the first version of the transcripts was six pages long. But students and parents wondered if they had a hard time getting through that, how could they expect colleges to? "If I could do it again, I would try to make sure there was a greater level of clarity around what the expectations were for staff and for students," Mosca said.

When the administration asked the University of Vermont's admissions department for feedback, staff recommended making the transcripts more concise. They also addressed concerns about proficiency-based learning and ensuring families that a transcript without grades wouldn't put students at a disadvantage.

"It's really the job of that school and that admissions committee to do a thorough job understanding that, and universities across the country, and really across the world, they would take that responsibility seriously," said Moses Murphy with UVM admissions.

Now, after weeks of work, students have the finalized version of their transcript in hand.

Reporter Christina Guessferd: Do you feel like now you're ready to present this transcript to a college for early admissions?

Alex Haag: I would feel better about presenting this to a college.

Kyle Courtois: At least it's here.

Maple Run Union School District's assistant superintendent is taking over the BFA-St. Albans job for now.