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January 2003

Passage of the Learning Results by the Maine Legislature in March 1996 marked a dramatic shift in the way we educate our children. Titled An Act to Initiate Education Reform in Maine, the measure has, in fact, done far more than merely spark reform. It has, to be sure, produced a groundswell of promising innovations in school districts from Kittery to Fort Kent. But perhaps even more significantly, it has prompted some of the most intense soul searching to occur within education circles in years.

Much of the ferment has centered on issues related to training and development for Maine's teachers. Rightly so, for if anything seems universally true in the wake of the legislation, it is that:

  • the Learning Results require radically new approaches to classroom planning, instruction, and assessment; and therefore,
  • helping teachers understand and adopt these new methods is the key to achieving the Learning Results' critically important goals.

At the Department of Education, we are exploring new ways to support schools and school districts as they reorganize to achieve the promise of the Learning Results. Meanwhile, all over Maine, communities are working hard to understand the law and examine its implications. In particular, teachers, parents, administrators, and school boards want to know: What kind of training and development will educators need in order to bring the Learning Results to fruition? What constitutes an effective system of training and development?

The fact is, there is no "magic bullet." Each school organization must design training and development strategies in keeping with its own local needs and traditions. However, research reveals a number of key principles that appear to characterize most of the training and development efforts that are successful. After an extensive review of existing quality standards drawn from a wide variety of documents, the Professional Development Policy Advisory Committee identified five key principles; they are embodied in the Quality Standards described in this report.

Our Quality Standards are based on the conviction that the purpose of training and development is to improve student achievement. They represent the belief that all adults who work with children in Maine's public schools are learners and deserve access to learning opportunities based on research and proven practice.

My hope is that the Quality Standards and examples of the Standards in Action presented here will guide educators and communities across Maine-and all of us in Augusta-as we strive to develop, implement, and evaluate strategies of professional training and development. Our children's future depends on the quality of our effort.

J. Duke Albanese

J. Duke Albanese
Commissioner of Education