The Governor devoted a good portion of his State of the State address on Tuesday evening to education, a reflection of the passion he has for the topic. As he said, he believes education saved his life.
He introduced three plans that have us here at the Maine DOE pretty excited—and working overtime. First is the Governor’s education conference, planned for March. We’ll share details in coming days as we lock down nationally-known speakers on topics important to our education agenda. Gov. LePage also unveiled his plan for a school performance grading system. This A-F grading will give parents and communities a quick overview of how their school is doing and hopefully generate discussion about how to progress. The grades will be based on publicly available data, multiple measures such as performance and growth, and grad rates for high schools. No, one grade doesn’t tell the whole story, but it’s important to have some transparency and to catalyze discussion about how to improve all of our schools – regardless of where they are on the scale.
Last, the Governor talked about his plan to require high schools to pay for the remedial courses their students have to take when entering university or community college in Maine. It’s true that not all students will complete high school with the same level of achievement, but we should not be giving a diploma that says they have met the standards they need to be successful, if they haven’t. If we do, we are simply setting them up for failure.
A diploma should mean that students are ready for the next level of study or work, and it is unfair to give them a diploma and then expect them and their families to pay for them to re-learn material they should already have learned in high school. Let’s be honest with students and be sure that they complete high school with a diploma that shows they have met the standards we have all agreed are necessary to be successful in career, college and life.