As you may have seen in the press, some concerns and questions have been raised recently about the Common Core standards in math and ELA, which the State incorporated into its Learning Results standards in 2011. Many of those concerns seem to stem from suspicions that the Common Core is an attempt by the federal government to influence education policy in the states and, as a consequence, that the adoption of these standards will diminish Maine’s longstanding tradition of local control as it regards things like curricula and instructional approaches. Some have also been wrongly led to believe there is new data collection associated with the new standards and related assessment, and that has led to fears about the potential exposure of student and family information via our new longitudinal data system.
In an effort to respond to those important concerns while making it very clear that Maine’s adoption of more rigorous, relevant standards was entirely voluntarily and that school and district-level implementation of those standards remains entirely a local decision, we have worked with Governor Paul R. LePage to develop an Executive Order entitled “An Order Regarding Protection of Local Education Control and Student Privacy Rights.” It was signed by the Governor yesterday, and I wanted to draw your attention to it if you’ve not already seen it.
It is important to note that the Governor’s order and the accompanying press release (which you can read here) affirms Maine’s commitment to high statewide standards, while also reinforcing Maine’s commitment to local control. The Executive Order in no way moves Maine away from the learning and accountability standards that are in place today. Instead, it is intended to remove any doubt about who sets learning expectations for Maine students– state policymakers with input from the public – and who is fully responsible for the implementation of these standards– your local school board. The order also makes clear that any future revisions to the State’s standards will be developed, as they always have been, through a transparent, inclusive process.
Our Department, in collaboration with our partners in higher education and the business community, will continue to work to better educate the public about the value of these statewide learning standards, and we encourage you to do the same locally. Maine DOE will, of course, continue to support your schools and districts and help to ensure that all students have the opportunity to achieve these critical learning outcomes.