Request for ESEA flexibility formally submitted to feds

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Education formally submitted a request for flexibility under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (or No Child Left Behind Act) to the federal government Thursday afternoon.

Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen, in consultation with educators from across the state, released a strategic plan in January that aims to better meet the needs of 21st century learners. Bowen, and most educators in the field, say the current NCLB framework, with its overemphasis of single-snapshot-in-time testing, its failure to recognize learning growth and its inscrutable processes for the recognition of schools stands in the way of meaningful change.

With the Maine DOE’s new accountability and improvement system, the Department intends to foster better educational results for every student in Maine, rather than having a singular focus on the outcomes of yearly targets that are unrealistic and unfair – measures that fail to show how students can learn better, according to Bowen.

“We will now have a way to measure schools that is more realistic and more meaningful,” Bowen said. “This new system provides an opportunity for more meaningful interventions and supports for struggling schools.”

Educators, stakeholders and people from around the state have been working for a year to craft this new system, which meets three broad principles set forth by the U.S. Department of Education. Maine’s proposal implements college- and career-ready standards; identifies, recognizes and supports schools, holds them accountable for growth and provides customized support and interventions; and promotes effective teaching and school leadership.

A compilation of public feedback forums, surveys and online discussions have influenced the Department’s proposal, ensuring that the new system meets the needs of all Maine’s learners.

You can find a link to the application document in its entirety on the Maine DOE Accountability and Improvement System web page.

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