AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Governor LePage says Maine students are not making nearly enough progress when it comes to improving their achievement, and he says the next legislature needs to take action.
The Governor and Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen held a news conference Wednesday afternoon to lay out their "ABC" plan to boost Maine's test scores.
Harvard University's Program on Education Policy and Governance came out with a study recently that showed Maine was second from the bottom in the U.S. when it came to improving its NAEP test scores. NAEP stands for National Assessment of Educational Progress, and it is a standardized test designed to compare student achievement across states and countries.
The governor used strong language in his call to action, saying that businesses in Maine find the quality of students coming out of school here to be "dismal" and that out of state colleges look down upon a Maine education.
The governor and commissioner unveiled what they call an "ABC" plan to change things.
A stands for Accountability: The Commissioner will soon unveil a plan to grade schools based on multiple measures of student achievement, and failing schools will get extra attention. Commissioner Bowen says a lot of the details are being worked out and there will be a more specific plan announced soon.
B is for Best Practices: The Department of Education will look to replicate successful programs from school districts both within Maine from other states.
C is for School Choice. This is the controversial piece, as the Department of Education plans to again push for a law that would allow public schools to have open enrollment for students outside their district. That plan failed in the legislature this year. And the governor blames the Superintendents, teachers unions and principals in Maine from standing in the way of progress.
Governor LePage said, "We need to stop blaming and start working. You lobbied against us for two sessions now. At the end of the day, you're not getting the job done."
The governor also says he wants to stop a system where many students need to take remedial courses at college because they don't learn the material in high school. He plans to introduce a bill to the legislature that would require the sending high school to pay for those courses.
Meanwhile, the Maine Education Association, the state's teacher's union, says the governor is going overboard in suggesting education in the state is broken. They point out Maine continues to perform above the national average on these tests, and is in the top 10 states in some areas. Maine 8th graders were in the top 10 states in reading on the 2011 NAEP test. And fourth graders tied for 5th in the nation in the most recent NAEP science test.
MEA president Lois Kilby-Chesley said, "It's as if a student had an A and was working for an A+. That's a hard jump to make."
The MEA is completely opposed to school choice, saying it will drain much needed funds from school districts that need it.