First forum yields ideas on ESEA flexibility

BANGOR — About 45 members of the public – including teachers, administrators and school board members – attended a public forum at Bangor High School on Dec. 8 to hear from Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen about Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility and to share ideas.

Below is a summary of their comments.

  • Reward schools: Recognize high-achieving schools with scholarship slots for their students at the University of Maine System and the Maine Community College System.
  • Reward schools: High achievement should be enough of a reward. High-achieving schools should be called upon to share their best practices with schools in need of improvement.
  • Reward schools: Concern that devoting resources to “reward schools” takes the focus off the schools that really need resources to improve.
  • High-performing schools should have more flexibility with regard to certain requirements involving reporting information to the Department of Education.
  • Reward schools: The teachers at high-achieving schools should be rewarded with free admission to certain professional development events.
  • Accountability: Recognize growth in student achievement with the same weight as raw achievement itself. It’s problematic to hold schools accountable for attendance, particularly in the lower grades when parents make the decisions.
  • Measurable indicators: Can a school be measured in part by the effort its students make as measured by the amount of time they spend with a teacher in order to understand a concept?
  • In measuring dropout and graduation rates, there should be more flexibility to allow for students who finish in more than four years. Also, schools shouldn’t have to count a transient student who drops out a day after enrolling as dropping out from their school.
  • In crafting teacher evaluations, use sound research to determine what the evaluation system measures. Does the measure authentically correlate with effective teaching? Using nationally recognized standards could be a starting point.

Have your say

  • Visit Maine DOE’s ESEA Flexibility Web Page. Stay on top of developments as Maine DOE crafts the state’s request to the federal government for ESEA flexibility. Learn about opportunities to offer your input.
  • Take the Survey. This 10-question survey asks for your thoughts on measuring school and teacher effectiveness, rewarding school success and helping schools improve. (Note, added Dec. 12: Survey closes Dec. 23 at 5 p.m.)
  • Join the Discussion. Visit the Maine DOE Newsroom to share your thoughts in an ongoing online discussion about a new accountability and recognition system for the state’s schools.
  • Stay Informed. Receive the weekly Commissioner’s Update from the Department of Education to stay on top of news on ESEA flexibility and other topics in Maine education.

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