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Gendron Proposes Repeal of Local Assessment System
Education Commissioner Responds to Recommendations of the “Fullan Report”
January 30, 2007
AUGUSTA – Education Commissioner Susan Gendron told reporters Tuesday she will propose a repeal of the controversial Local Assessment System. She is recommending to replace it with a system that supports student learning and the use of assessments that help teachers work with students to achieve the Maine Learning Results.
Gendron’s announcement coincided with the Department of Education’s release of “A Look to the Future: Maine Education Reform,” a report by international expert Michael Fullan, who offered key findings and recommendations on improving the Local Assessment System and improving achievement of Maine’s Learning Results. The report is the culmination of a year-long review of the Local Assessment System in response to concerns expressed by parents and educators.
“After several years of great success following the establishment of Maine’s Learning Results in 1997, student achievement on the Maine Educational Assessment has plateaued,” Gendron said. “Fullan has shown us what we are doing right, and what is getting in the way of student learning and achievement.”
Recommendations in the report increase the focus on literacy and numeracy and streamline the Maine Learning Results standards and assessments. Gendron noted this will not diminish Maine’s commitment to all of the content areas. By concentrating on key areas, however, she said success for students in other areas will follow, a conclusion that is also drawn in the report.
Fullan recommends reducing emphasis on assessment, as well, and putting more energy into effective instructional practices and assessing for learning.
“We reinforce the need to focus more explicitly on the development of professional learning communities as a means of highlighting attention to teaching and learning and corresponding capacity building,” the report reads.
Gendron said she has submitted legislation that will address other recommendations in the report. LR 958, An Act to Prepare All Maine Students for College, Work and Citizenship will create professional “learning communities” and require time to be made available for teachers to work collaboratively to design high quality curriculum, instruction, and assessments. This kind of collaboration among teachers in the same content areas, across content areas, and/or grade levels is happening in and among some school administrative units. The Department of Education will work with schools across the state to guarantee this kind of collaboration in all regions.
Gendron noted that one of the key benefits of the proposed Local Schools, Regional Support Initiative, which would reduce the number of school administrative units in the state to 26, would be this kind of professional collaboration.
LR 958 would also establish a “certification” process for high school programs to ensure they are in line with the Maine Learning Results and prepare students for college, work and citizenship.
“Every student and parent – and every college and university admission officer – must be confident that a Maine high school diploma means the same thing,” Gendron said. “It is not fair for our students to graduate high school, and then find out they can’t get into college or have to take remedial courses for no credit in college, because they were not prepared for college in high school.”
The report can be accessed online at: “A Look to the Future: Maine Education Reform".
David Connerty-Marin, Director of Communications, Maine Department of Education, 207-624-6880
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