School grades once again a focus in Augusta

6:25 PM, May 8, 2013   |    comments
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AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Maine's Commissioner of Education is laying out what the department plans to do now that it's graded Maine schools.

Commissioner Stephen Bowen said his department plans to reach out to schools that received Ds and Fs to see what resources they think they might need for improvement. Then department staff will work with those schools on a plan.

The department also is going to be doing some reorganizing of its own so that it can target needs of individual school districts and help those with similar problems work together on solutions.

And it will be putting together a professional development task force to look at how to make the most of teacher training days.

Bowen said, "We need to be going out every single day and work specifically with schools and districts, meeting the needs they have specifically."

The Democratic co-chairs of the legislature's Education Committee, meanwhile, released their proposal on how schools should be evaluated.
They want to put together a stakeholder group to come up with a plan to assess schools based on multiple factors, including student progress over 5 or more years, interviews of community members, variations in poverty rates and other demographics, and school attendance rates. Rep. Bruce MacDonald (D-Boothbay), who co-chairs the committee, said, "Putting students first means strengthening education, not underfunding and undermining it."

The Democrats say the governor's grades are based on a simplistic system that stigmatizes schools.

House Republican Leader Ken Fredette said he hoped Republicans would be a part of this stakeholder group. "We need to do this important job together, rather than do politics in a tit-for-tat."


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