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eNews Week of Jan 13, 2020

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Administrators’ Message

Our message about the intervention period for high school students, scheduled for this coming week (January 14 - 17) may have caused some confusion for middle school families. Middle school students will have an adjusted schedule each day this Tuesday - Friday, but not for proficiency recovery. Middle school teams will continue to schedule recovery time and enrichment (for those students who have already demonstrated proficiency) when it makes sense for them to do so.

Please read the letter below about the work and focus on our proficiency-based system at VUHS. Thanks.

Stephanie, Ed, and Jay


VUHS Community:

Proficiency-based learning, also referred to as student-centered or mastery-based learning, has been widely implemented across 49 states in the US. Because of its alignment with researched-based best practices such as clear learning targets, frequent feedback used to inform instruction, growth-based indicators of progress toward expectations, and more valid assessment and reporting practices, PBL is more successful at preparing all students for college, career, and other post-secondary aspirations. There are many decision-points in implementing PBL at the systems level, and as has always been true, there are variations in practices among schools within the state and across the country. While some decisions are made to suit individual school needs, such as daily schedules, other decisions such as the transcript and school profile have a high impact on students’ college and university acceptance. For these reasons, VUHS and ANWSD have taken all efforts to successfully ensure that the VUHS school profile and transcripts clearly articulate that we are a proficiency-based system; providing a succinct, readable transcript and school profile that communicates our grading practices. Due to the quality and accuracy of our transcripts and school profile, VUHS students, parents and community can be assured that our students’ acceptance rates into colleges and universities will not be adversely affected due to our proficiency-based learning system. 

At VUHS, the transcript for this year’s graduating class is the same format that has been in use for many years. It lists a final grade for each class that a student has taken, the number of credits earned, the student’s class rank, and their graduation date. Proficiency-based scores earned this year are being converted to a 100 point score according to the conversion chart posted in the handbook. The transcript that VUHS will use to record academic accomplishments for future classes is in the final drafting stage and will be ready for implementation beginning with the graduating class of 2021. The VUHS Leadership Team has been reviewing transcripts in use at area schools and taking the recent concerns into consideration during the design process.  

The revised transcript will continue to be a single page (preferred by admissions officers) and is designed to summarize academic achievement with information included about three main areas:

  • Final proficiency-based course scores arranged by academic year which aligns with a traditional transcript view. This will include a letter grade translation to offer an alternative way to interpret the proficiency-based score. Both the score and the grade will be available to avoid an inaccurate conversion.

  • A section that lists additional learning experiences such as independent studies, dual enrollment classes, and other flexible pathways as well as any scores from outside entities that the student earns to demonstrate the breadth of educational experiences that a student may challenge themselves with.

  • A section that summarizes student progress and achievement in the transferable skill areas that are graduation requirements. 

The transcript will also include a cumulative course score average (equivalent to the current transcript’s cumulative numerical grade average). The school profile will contain the class distribution range so colleges can determine where a student falls in relation to the scores of students within their cohort. These design features are intended to provide succinct information about a student’s academic history at VUHS in an easy to read and interpret format that remains familiar compared to the transcripts that some other schools have adopted.

The school profile is a document that accompanies every transcript and is posted to the Common Application portal. The profile is designed to give additional information about an individual high school and often lists programs unique to a school and other distinguishing characteristics. The VUHS profile currently lists programs specific to our community such as Morning Meeting, Callback, Walden and other flexible pathways that students may pursue. It offers comparison information such as AP, ACT and SAT scores and lists our highest level courses. It describes the grading system. It also lists all the colleges that students were accepted to and gives postgraduate data about college attendance. With the revision to the transcript, the profile will also include the cumulative course score average range which will show the percentile of the student’s cumulative course score average within the graduating class as well as a description of the proficiency assessment and scoring system. 

In addition to working to ensure that the transcript is easy to understand and accurately reflects the information that colleges and other post-secondary programs need to see about student academic performance, there were other elements of concern as expressed in the VTDigger article that the VUHS Leadership Team, consisting of teachers from across our system, has been addressing during our implementation of proficiency-based learning including low college acceptance rates and lower than expected GPA. 

The article reported that a UVM admissions officer commented that the average of U-32 students’ grade point averages (GPA) seemed lower than those from other schools and in the student newspaper, students commented that scoring was uneven. During our implementation of proficiency-based learning, our faculty has been working to design and align learning expectations and the criteria used to assess student work. This calibration will ensure that students are being scored equitably and that clear descriptors of performance exist and are followed. When scores need to be converted, the conversion chart we have developed has been tested and reviewed in comparison with students’ past performance to make sure the conversion is accurate and doesn’t deflate scores. We are also reviewing students’ previous academic performance to make sure that the scores that students are earning this year are in keeping with previous years’ grades and teachers are reviewing scores before they transfer to PowerSchool to ensure accuracy.

Perhaps the most important way we are ensuring the fidelity of our proficiency-based learning system is to make sure that students have the support they need to achieve at high levels. One strategy is to provide opportunities to relearn and reassess. This week, the last week of the first semester, instead of the customary exam schedule, we have scheduled our first proficiency recovery blocks. We have reviewed student progress and teachers are scheduling students for this intervention time so students who need extra support, more time to complete assignments or to reassess in order to demonstrate proficiency have the time to do that.

The VUHS Leadership Team and ANWSD district administration are committed to continually improving a system that meets the tenets of proficiency-based learning and supports students as they prepare to enter the world equipped with the skills necessary to be successful whatever their pursuits. With the aforementioned structures in place, and a Proficiency-Based Learning Initiatives Plan that continues to fine-tune our systems, VUHS students are well-poised for success in the pursuit of post-secondary education as well as limitless alternatives.


Best regards,

Stephanie Taylor, VUHS Principal

Violet Nichols, ANWSD Director of Learning & Technology

Sheila Soule, ANWSD Superintendent of Schools


Middle & High School News & Info


It’s not too early to be making plans for summer. The school counseling office will receive a variety of summer opportunities over the next several months. Click here to access a list of these opportunities for students currently in grades 7-12. We are not specifically endorsing any of these programs (because we are not familiar with all of them) and encourage you to further research any in which your student might be interested. As we receive additional program information, we’ll add it to this document, so check back weekly.

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum Summer Expeditions - Learn more here.



High School News & Info

Grades 9-12


This program is sponsored by The American Legion Department of Vermont and run in coordination with the New Hampshire Police Cadet Training Academy. Students with a minimum age of 14 years and who are currently in high school (grades 9-12) are eligible to apply/attend this program. This will be held June 20 - 26, 2020 on the campus of New Hampshire Institute of Technology in Concord, NH. Applications for this program are available in the School Counseling Office. Interested students are encouraged to get a packet early so all requirements can be accomplished, including sponsorship from the Vergennes American Legion. Fully completed applications (including all required signatures and medical certificates) must be submitted by April 1, 2020 - specific instructions are included in the application packet; more information can be found here. 


WINTER WEEKENDS 2019 - Deadline extended to Tuesday, January 14th

Ten topics to choose from - One epic adventure in learning!

Weekend of Feb. 7-9: Neuroscience, Writing & Film, Microcontrollers, Dancemaking, Entrepreneurial Leadership

Weekend of Feb. 21-23: Astrophotography, Social Psychology, Solo Singers’ Masterclass, Space Mission Design, The Art of Cartooning

For more information and to apply visit Application deadline is January 14, 2020. Apply early - spots fill up fast. Winter Weekends are held at Goddard College in Plainfield, VT.


Grade 11


An exciting opportunity will take place on January 15th, 2020 at 6:00pm in the VUHS Library. Please click here for more information. We hope to see you there! 


Grades 11 & 12

Drive for Ecellence

Qualifying students have the chance to win a new car or one of three $1,000 scholarships. Deadline to register is April 15, 2020 and report cards are due by Monday, April 20, 2020. Students will need to bring a signed release to Mrs. Vincent in the School Counseling Office in order for report cards to be submitted. Students can pick up a release in the School Counseling Office or here. Requests for report cards are due no later than April 16 to be sure the deadline is met.


Grade 12


There are scholarships available for application at this time. Scholarships are posted on the School Counseling web page here and updated on a regular basis.


VSAC Scholarship booklets have been distributed. More information about VSAC scholarships can be found on the School Counseling Scholarship webpage and/or here.

The Red Sox Foundation Scholarship is now available. As long as three VUHS students submit applications for this scholarship, one VUHS applicant will receive a $1,000 scholarship. Information is on the scholarship page and/or here.

Upcoming Scholarship Deadlines

VT JCI Senate Scholarship 1/17/2020

Roger Sheridan Memorial Scholarship 1/27/2020

Elks Legacy Scholarship 1/31/2020

VT-NEA Maida Townsend Scholarship 2/1/2020

New England Red Sox VT Scholarship 2/7/2020

VSAC Scholarships 2/12/2020


School Calendar Reminders

January ANWSD Board/Committee Meeting Schedule

January 15 - Plan Your Future Night (for Juniors & their parents) - VUHS Library - 6:00 PM

January 17 - End of Semester 1

January 20 - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - No School

January 21 - No School for Students - Faculty/Staff Inservice

January 23 - JumpRope Drop-In Help Session - VUHS Library - 4:00-6:00 PM

February 1 - High School Mid-Winter Ball - Vergennes Opera House - 8-11 PM - Theme: Glow


Math Team News

Congratulations to the VUHS Math Team for placing 4th out of 15 teams at the meet on January 7th. We triumphed over BFA Fairfax, BFA St. Albans, Burlington, Colchester,  Milton, Missisquoi, Mt. Abe, Mt. Mansfield, Rice, U-32 and Enosburg.

Congratulations to Kai Williams for a perfect paper in Arithmetic.

Top Category Tests

Arithmetic: Kai Williams, Erich Reitz & Ian Brons

Geometry: Xander DeBlois,  Leah Croke & David Nicholls

Algebra: Ian Brons, Erich Reitz & Pearl Sutton

Adv. Math: Kai Williams, Erich Reitz & Leah Croke

Top Scores Overall

5th: Xander DeBlois

4th: Leah Croke

3rd: Ian Brons

2nd: Erich Reitz

1st: Kai Williams

Great job to all the VUHS Mathletes! - Xavier DeBlois, Morgan Hurlburt,  Shea McLaren, David Nicholls, Alex Rice, Xander DeBlois, Reagan Kayhart, Tommy Lawrence, Nima Mehregan, Pearl Sutton, Ian Brons, Leah Croke, Erich Reitz and Kai Williams!


New England Young Writers’ Conference

Congratulations to the following students for being accepted to this year's New England Young Writers' Conference at Middlebury College!

Marlie Hunt, Summer Chabot, Olivia Brooks, Alder Donovan, Rebecca Kachmar, Charles Stewart, Kai Williams, Kaleigh Campbell, Ava Collins, Emily Rooney, and Shamus Hayes

And our three alternates are: Ryley Olsen, Addie Brooks, and Aidan Gebo


JumpRope Drop-In Help Session

Please join us on Thursday, January 23rd between 4-6 pm in the VUHS Library if you have any questions about JumpRope and proficiency-based grading. More info here.


Commodore Parent/Teacher Group

Our meetings are on the 4th Monday of the month from 6:30-8:00 PM in the VUHS library. The next one is Monday, January 27th.

Our new email address is [email protected] and you can find us on Facebook at:


VUHS Athletics

VUHS is the first high school in the state to offer an automated live video stream of it's athletic events! Thank you to the Vergennes Boosters Club for the purchase and installation of this camera system. Vergennes Athletics continues it's advancement forward and our Boosters Club is a major reason why. Please consider offering your support by joining the Boosters Club. They meet the 2nd Tuesday of each month from 7-8 p.m. If you are interested, please contact Kirsten De La Cruz, Booster Club President ([email protected]).

To view upcoming events live, please click here. The link is also on the VUHS website on the Athletics page. Thank you and enjoy the games!



Want to learn more about VUHS?

Don’t forget that you can also check out the new school website! There are lots of great resources and contact information for families and students.