2014-15 school year: We’re in this together

Congratulations on the start of the 2014-15 school year!

This week, Maine students are fortunate to be heading back to schools where they will be welcomed by educators who encourage their love of learning and are deeply dedicated to ensuring every one of them is successful.

On behalf of Governor LePage and all of us at the Department, I want to thank those teachers, administrators and other school staff for their care for and commitment to our students. Maine kids are increasingly being inspired in their classrooms and achievement in their studies is rising as a result, putting them on a path for future college and career success.

While young people may not always be quick to express their gratitude, educators deserve to know how much they are valued and appreciated, not just by their students and their families, but our state as a whole. Thank you!

Just as we are continuing to raise our expectations of our students because we know they are capable of meeting them, we are doing the same of our schools.

As part of their commitment to supporting every student, Maine educators are embracing evolutions that will improve the college and career readiness of our students. The ninth graders just arriving in Maine high schools will be among the first to graduate with proficiency-based diplomas, reflective of their mastery of eight critical content area standards. And this spring, both elementary and high school students will be taking new assessments that provide parents and teachers timely and accurate information in order to individualize and improve instruction. Meanwhile, districts are also working to develop and pilot fair educator evaluation systems that will better support teacher and principal growth.

Please know I recognize and respect the hard work implementing these student-centered changes in your schools requires. Even taken on their own, I realize these initiatives are heavy lifts for schools that already feel resource-strapped. Yet it is by thoughtfully integrating them that we can most meaningfully transform teaching and learning. The result: stronger schools and Maine students who graduate from them with the creativity and critical thinking, collaboration and communication skills needed to be successful in the 21st century.

Good luck during the 2014-15 school year! The Department looks forward to supporting you in raising student outcomes through this important work in the months ahead. Please take full advantage of the improvement resources we offer and let us know additional ones that would be helpful.

We’re in this together.