Education Commissioner affirms commitment to accountability in wake of reformer’s resignation

AUGUSTA – Maine’s Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen released a statement today in response to the resignation of Florida Education Commissioner Dr. Tony Bennett, affirming his Department’s commitment to school reform and accountability.

Bennett, who like Commissioner Bowen is a member of the visionary Chiefs for Change education reformers group, headlined the Governor’s Education Conference: Putting Students First this past March.

“Tony Bennett is a trailblazing education leader whose efforts to innovate and improve student outcomes remain a model to the nation,” the Commissioner said.

“Reform isn’t easy, but as Tony knew, those who are content with the status quo will always push back against new approaches and new ideas. Nevertheless, improving outcomes for our children make the hard work and the political potshots that come with it more than worthwhile. I, for one, remain committed to ensuring that Maine students get the education they deserve and graduate from our schools college and career ready. As we continue to advance student achievement in Maine through accountability, best practices and choice, we would be wise to remember Tony’s message from our Governor’s Education Conference: ‘Everything we do must be student focused, success driven and must build a coalition of support for comprehensive education reform.’”

Commissioner Bowen also said in the wake of Dr. Bennett’s resignation, criticisms about the credibility of school grading systems from those served by the status quo in their attempt to undermine meaningful accountability are to be expected.

The straightforwardness of Maine’s grading formula, which used validated, long-reported proficiency and progress figures, and the public availability of the calculations and data used to determine each school grade ensures the system’s integrity and effectiveness as a tool for transparency and improvement, the Commissioner added.

The next round of report cards for elementary and high schools will be released in the spring.

For more information about the Maine School Performance Grading System, visit www.maine.gov/doe/schoolreportcards.

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