LEWISTON – Following several visits to Portland-area schools and a roundtable with administrators and teachers yesterday, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today sent a letter to the leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee urging them provide Maine and other states with greater flexibility in complying with federal standardized testing requirements as they work to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), better known as No Child Left Behind.
“Just yesterday I visited several schools in the state – including Portland’s Casco Bay High School and Freeport Middle School. Both schools are leaders in Maine’s transition to a student-centered, proficiency-based learning model. In speaking with students, teachers, and school administrators, I was struck by the sea change this represents in how we deliver education and the possibilities it presents for students and educators to experience a deeper, more rigorous form of education that involves timely feedback and differentiated student support,” Senator King wrote in his letter. “ To fully realize the potential of this new education model, Maine and other states will need flexibility from the federal government – particularly in relation to federal testing requirements. This is why I hope to work with you to provide states like Maine with relief from federally-mandated annual summative assessments, provided these states can demonstrate – through a clearly-defined, timely process – that they have developed robust state and local assessments aligned to similarly high standards.”
Senator King’s letter comes a day after meeting with teachers and administrators to discuss the upcoming reauthorization of ESEA and the challenges faced by Maine schools when it comes to the law. Currently, the federal government requires all students 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. Senator King announced yesterday that he intends 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.
The complete text of the letter is below and can be read HERE: