First Year Team – Class of 2020

Woodstock Union High School

Welcome to the First Year Team’s Blog!

Welcome to the First Year Team! This blog is intended for students entering their first year of high school at WUHS and their parents. Please visit our blog frequently for updates and images from the classroom and beyond. You can also sign up to receive e-mail notifications each time we create new posts (see the bottom of this page to sign up).

To learn more about the teacher members of the team, click here.  Teachers on this team will work together to coordinate curriculum, enhance students’ personalized learning experience, and guide students towards proficiency.  To learn more about Vermont’s new policies for personalized, proficiency-based education, please read our first, second, and third blog posts.

Featured post

VT Agency of Education on Proficiency

This is a regularly updated website maintained by the Vermont Agency of Education.  There are some recent additions related to proficiency-based transcripts.

What is Personalized, Proficiency-Based Education?

Click here to hear a version of a First Year Team presentation on personalized, proficiency-based education with a voiceover.  We are excited to share this presentation with you, and hope you will contact us with feedback.

A great description of all aspects of proficiency-based learning in Vermont

This video is a great resource for understanding the theory behind Vermont’s implementation of policies for proficiency-based graduation.  It addresses grading and post-secondary enrollment.

Watch This! Great video created by VT teens on what personalized proficiency means to them

This video, created by VT teens from a number of VT high schools, captures the essence of personalized proficiency from the student perspective.

Now, check out the making of this video!


Hello Class of 2020 Students and Families,

As you already know, from your various experiences from the first three weeks of school, significant and exciting changes in education and learning are happening at WUHS.  Two key drivers of these changes: Act 77 and the Education Quality Standards, have their origins in the Vermont Legislature and the Vermont Agency of Education and yet how these drivers will shape student experience at WUHS will be directed by our faculty, students and community.

You are a part of this process and I would like to invite you to the first of what will be a year-long series of information and discussion sessions at the school for members of the Class of 2020 (students and families).  The first meeting will be Wednesday, September 21 from 6:00-7:30pm in the school library.  The schedule of the other meetings will be shared once it has been developed from participant input.

To help answer some of the questions that people have already contacted me with and to provide context for the first meeting I have included some background information and a video link.  I encourage students and families to watch the video together.

Please feel free to continue to email me your questions (  I will organize them and sent out periodic answers to everyone.  I will also use them as the basis for the information and discussion sessions.

I look forward to getting to know all of you during this exciting year at our school.

Best Regards,

Garon Smail, WUHS Principal

What is Act 77?

Act 77 is legislation that was passed into law in July 2013 to ensure that all Vermont students have access to high-quality educational experiences that best prepare them for life after graduation. In the words of the Agency of Education, “We are placing students at the center of the construction and implementation of their own learning experience. Our role as educators is to facilitate that experience in a way that maximizes the opportunities for students… to graduate college and career ready.”

What are Vermont’s’ Education Quality Standards?

The 2014 Education Quality Standards (EQS) were established by the State Board of Education, these standards “ensure that all students in Vermont public schools are afforded educational opportunities that are substantially equal in quality, and enable them to achieve or exceed the standards approved by the State Board of Education… these rules are designed to ensure continuous improvement in student performance, instruction and leadership to enable students to attain rigorous standards in high quality programs.” These revised standards signal the intentional shift from inputs to outcomes; from a focus on courses and Carnegie units (seat time) to a focus on mastery of content.

Relationship between Act 77 and the Education Quality Standards

The alignment between the EQS and Act 77 is highly intentional. While Act 77 is primarily about the shift to personalization in the educational experience, EQS is primarily about the shift to the demonstration of proficiency. This alignment recognizes that personalization and proficiency complement and reinforce one another.


Follow this link for a student perspective on What’s the Deal with Proficiency-Based Learning?

First Year Orientation: What a Way to Start the Year!

Here are some photos that capture our First Year students having a ball (or a rubber chicken) with the first day High Five team building activities.  The students and staff played hard, ate yummy pizza and gained a sense of community. We all look forward to a successful academic year ahead.

Curious about how colleges are viewing proficiency? Read this article!


2015 VPR Segment on Personalized Learning in Vermont

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 2.31.19 PM

This Vermont Public Radio segment from October 21, 2015 provides perspective on Vermont’s choice to implement proficiency-based, personalized learning.

Check out LiFT!

Our First Year students will be using a great new program that will bring together proficiency based grading and personalized learning.  For more detailed information on LiFT visit:

Blog at

Up ↑