Improving education with ABC plan

Author icon: Head shot of Commissioner Stephen BowenGovernor Paul LePage and I held a press conference this week to discuss the results of a recent Harvard University education study, which found that Maine’s NAEP test scores have barely moved over the past two decades.

While Maine still ranks 12th in the nation (down from third in 1992), Maine had the second lowest gains of the 41 states in the study.

It’s like a student gets a D-plus in a class of D’s and F’s. He may be at the top, but we should not say he’s doing OK.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been in schools across Maine where there are innovative ideas and new approaches being undertaken and great work is happening. But we have a long way to go.

The governor and I unveiled the ABC plan, the Department’s new initiative to improve achievement growth in Maine by prioritizing three core areas: Accountability, Best Practices, and Choice. With Maine’s educators on board, we can start working toward substantial change in our schools this fall and ensure that all students receive educations that leave them college- or work-ready.

Learn more about Maine’s results in the Harvard University study and read my remarks from the press conference.

— Stephen Bowen

3 thoughts on “Improving education with ABC plan

  1. I have had concerns regarding the enrollment age of children into kindergarten. The rigors of kindergarten are very much like first grade used to be. First grade is very much like second grade used to be. So education has certainly changed since the days of “Dick and Jane” in first grade. One area has not changed…children are still entering kindergarten if they turn five by October 15th. I think the expectations of kindergarten require the cutoff date to be changed to June 30th. I’d prefer March 31st, but even June 30th would allow for three-and-a-half months growth for a child, both academically and emotionally.

    Yes, parents can wait to send their child. However, many don’t for various reasons. They have no older children to compare the readibility of their child: they want to get their chind into kingergarten for work reasons, or they have no older children to compare the readibility of their child. There are other reasons. Kindgergarten screening can recommend waiting another year. But, since the age cutoff is Oct. 15th, parents can send their child, ready or not.

    I think we’d see a tremendous turn-around if the date was changed. This would be economically favorable. Children would be successful right from the beginning of school. Success at the get-go will mean the successful child is more likely to stay in school. As a result, fewer kids would be dropping out in high school, thus reducing the drop-out rate, which in turn results in productive adults, which in turn results in a reduction of welfare. Everybody wins…on both ends (k-12).

  2. When an athlete approaches the top of his/her game the improvement becomes very narrow. Gaining from one point to another upward becomes extremely difficult. Maine was third in the nation and now is twelfth. Thirty-eight states are below us. We have been close to the top of our game for over 20 years. Many of these years we have been at the top in math and science. How can this administration make the case that we are near the bottom?

    This appears to be the same ruse of a “created crisis” that was used in both the Maine Public Employees Retirement System and the MaineCare debacle. Fool me once, shame on you! Fool me twice, shame on me!

  3. Dear Commissioner Bowen, I continue to be concerned by the Governor’s apparent belief that “choice” (which I have to read as “charter schools” given his past remarks) is a solution to Maine’s educational status. The lure of charter schools for many is that they do not have to be held to the same regulations and requirements that the public schools do which raises the issue of how the factor of “accountability” in the Governor’s ABC formula will be addressed.

    I am also concerned by the Governor’s perception that Maine schools and students are looked down on or considered inferior on the national scene. I haven’t done a formal study, but I venture the opinion that there are students from schools all over Maine who have been welcomed at the best and most prestigious colleges and universities in the country. And Maine’s own public university system has much to be proud of. Our own local branch here in Machias provides programming that is unique in the US, environmental liberal arts, and we’re just the “little guys!”

    It is my hope that you don’t share the Governor’s views on this issue of perception. Knowing that you have personally experienced so many of the state’s schools I would expect that you don’t, but I don’t imagine that it’s an easy thing to dissuade Mr. LePage from voicing his views, especially as he works to shake up the status quo. I anticipate him receiving a fair serving of flack over this statement, and hope that in the long run the facts will prove the opposite and he can feel more comfortable supporting this state and it’s schools.


    Bonnie L. Fortini, Machias, Maine

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