A meaningful change

Author icon: Head shot of Commissioner Stephen BowenShifting Maine to the Common Core state standards is the right change to make for our children. And it’s a change that will last.

When you bring up academic standards with a group of Maine teachers, one of the most common requests you’ll get is a simple one: pick a set of standards and stick with them.

Maine teachers have become accustomed over the past 15 years to the exact opposite: They’re used to regularly changing course on the standards that inform what they teach their students and what they should expect from them.

The state’s schools adopted the Maine Learning Results in 1997. The standards were retooled in 2007 and again in 2009, when schools started testing students using a new standardized exam, the New England Common Assessment Program.

In a few years, Maine schools will be ready to transition to yet another set of standards that they’ll have in common with schools in more than 40 other states.

That’s because Gov. Paul LePage signed the Common Core standards for math and English into law for Maine on Friday.

By signing onto this nationwide, state-driven initiative, we’re ensuring that our children will receive instruction based on some of most rigorous standards available anywhere.

The Common Core standards align with the standards of some of the countries that top the charts academically. They’re clear, and they emphasize the skills our students need to be successful in college and in 21st-century jobs.

Our participation in the Common Core initiative will allow us to take advantage of the treasure trove of curriculum resources (text books, training opportunities) being developed to align with the new standards.

On top of that, joining the effort will allow us to replace our annual standardized exams with a state-of-the-art online testing tool in the works that adapts to each student and allows teachers to use the test multiple times throughout the year to track students’ progress and adjust their instruction accordingly.

Yes, the shift to the Common Core standards will be another big change for Maine teachers.

But it’s a change the Department of Education will make sure is well executed.

And it’s a change that will have staying power.

One response to “A meaningful change

  1. Mrs. Lisa Davis

    I am anxious to have the Common Core standards adopted and implemented in all Maine’s schools. What would be the advantage of “gradually” transitioning to them, versus making the change outright? This is what some schools have planned.