April 01, 2015
PORTLAND, ME – Following a roundtable lunch this afternoon at Presumpscot Elementary School in Portland, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) announced his intention to introduce legislation that will provide Maine with a pathway to reduce the number of federally-mandated standardized tests students must take to be in compliance with No Child Left Behind.
“It’s important that we test our kids every year – students, parents, and educators benefit from those benchmarks and can use them to help determine what the next best step is in a child’s education. And those are the types of decisions that can have a profound effect on their lives,” Senator King said. “But as states like Maine transition towards more rigorous and innovative education models, the federal government needs to be a partner and not a barrier to our students’ success. The legislation I intend to introduce will give Maine and other states more flexibility under No Child Left Behind so that our teachers and students aren’t bound by a one-size-fits-all testing regime and can focus more on learning.”
Under current law, all students are required to take seventeen standardized tests in reading, math, and science over the course of their educational careers. However, as Maine and a handful of other states move toward advanced, proficiency-based learning systems some of these federal tests are becoming increasingly out of line with state-designed learning models.
Efforts are underway in Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), better known as No Child Left Behind, which will provide federal lawmakers like Senator King with the opportunity to promote greater flexibility for schools across Maine as they transition to proficiency-based learning. To promote better coordination between federal requirements and future state innovations, Senator King plans to propose legislation that would create a pathway – through an approved pilot-project – for advanced states like Maine to gradually reduce the number of federally-mandated, high-stakes tests in exchange for implementing robust state and locally-designed tests aligned to high standards and competencies.
Senator King’s announcement followed a roundtable luncheon with teachers and administrators at Presumpscot Elementary School in Portland where they discussed the upcoming reauthorization of ESEA and the challenges and opportunities faced by the Portland School System when it comes to the law’s renewal.
Prior to the roundtable, Senator King also toured Casco Bay High School in Portland, an expeditionary learning school founded in 2005, that structures its curriculum around “learning expeditions,” or long-term independent studies that involve fieldwork and a capstone presentation. The projects, and all associated coursework, are evaluated within a proficiency-based grading system. Senator King visited several classes and participated in a small group conversation with students and teachers about how the school is a leader in proficiency-based learning and the ways in which this has changed the traditional classroom model.
Senator King also visited Freeport Middle School earlier today while it held a Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) teacher training workshop where he discussed the evolving and essential need for technology in the classroom and how it can facilitate personalized learning experiences. He underscored his support for the Enhancing Education Through Technology Act, a bill he introduced to authorize grants to states and school districts for technology purchases and related professional development programs.
Later today, Senator King will also participate in a public roundtable discussion at York County Community College with students, business leaders, and college staff to discuss innovative program delivery models and dual credit programs for high school graduation and college completion that can help improve college affordability. The roundtable will be followed by a tour of YCCC’s Culinary Arts Program, which works with the state’s tourism industry, as well as a tour of the college’s precision manufacturing facility in Sanford which promotes workforce development and delivers specialized training for job opportunities.
Finally, he will end the day by delivering remarks at the graduation of parent leaders at the Sanford Community Parent Leadership Training Institute who have completed is a 20-week skill-based curriculum designed to bolster family involvement and leadership skills while promoting life-long health, safety and learning of children.