State in running for up to $75m in education reform funds
AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Education’s Race to the Top application arrived at the U.S. Department of Education Tuesday morning.
The application represents months of work collecting data and organizing the Department’s work to demonstrate its vision for education and education reform in Maine. The state hopes to win a share of the $4 billion available through the federal initiative aimed at reform; if Maine wins, it could receive up to $75 million over four years for efforts to improve data systems, improve teaching and learning, turn around low achieving schools, and further improve the state’s already-strong standards and assessments.
Eighty-two school districts, representing nearly three-quarters of the students in the state and more than half of all public schools, signed onto the application, signaling their intent to participate in significant portions of the work identified. The districts represent urban and rural areas, large and small districts, and more than half of all students in the state living in poverty.
“Maine is known in the education world for our innovations, such as some of the first state-wide learning standards in the country and our pioneering one-to-one laptop initiative,” said Angela Faherty, Acting Commissioner of Education. “Completing the application allowed us to showcase Maine’s strengths and develop a plan for scaling up reforms that have been shown to improve student achievement.”
Three pieces of legislation approved earlier this year removed barriers to Maine applying for the competitive grants: one allows and encourages innovative public schools with charter-like flexibility, but run by public school boards and with certified teachers; one removes the prohibition in law against linking student performance to teacher and principal evaluations; and one authorizes the commissioner to adopt national Common Core State Standards to provide high and consistent expectations for our students.
Maine’s application can be found online. States will be notified this summer if they are finalists and winners will be announced in late August or September.
For more information, visit the Maine Department of Education website.