Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

Karla Giuliano Sarr


This Independent Practitioner Inquiry Capstone (IPIC) paper examines student perspectives on proficiency-based learning at an adult education center in Vermont. Through Vermont’s High School Completion Program (HSCP), adults can earn their high school diplomas through proficiency-based Personalized Learning Plans (PLPs). This qualitative study focuses on high school-aged students who received referrals to the program from area schools within the context of the current shift toward proficiency-based learning mandated by Vermont Act 77. The study draws on resources specific to Act 77, as well as literature on the nationwide trend toward personalized learning and proficiency-based learning. The researcher uses holistic student development and human capital theory as frames for analysis. The specific question posed in this study was “How do students in the High School Completion Program view proficiency-based learning and its impact on their education?” This question was answered through a thematic analysis focused on in-depth interviews with student participants and the guidance counselors who referred them to the program. Evidence from this study indicates that some students who have left the public school system are eager to contribute to conversations on proficiency-based learning and are able to identify ways proficiency-based learning has benefited them in terms of their professional and academic development. Through this study, the researcher highlights another student voice in the conversation on proficiency-based learning in Vermont.

Key terms: proficiency-based learning, personalized learning plans, adult education, alternatives to school, project-based learning, holistic student development, human capital theory, career development, Vermont


Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | International and Comparative Education | Other Education | Student Counseling and Personnel Services | Vocational Education


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