Maine Schools Could Lose Fed Funding Over Assessment Changes

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The federal Department of Education (DOE) is threatening to withhold money from Maine’s Department of Education (MDE) due to the state’s failure to meet student testing and data reporting requirements for reading, language arts, and mathematics.

In a strongly worded letter to Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin, a senior official with the DOE said Maine did not meet federal Title I requirements for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 schools years.

Those requirements include the adoption by state departments of “criterion-referenced academic achievement standards.”

Such standards allow parents to see when students are exceeding, meeting, or below state and federal standards.

Without those standards, parents have a harder time measuring the success of the school system in education children.

The letter cites a “lack of documentation indicating how MDE satisfied essential requirements of Title I of the [Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965]” for reading, language arts, and mathematics. For this reason, DOE is placing a condition on several Title I grants the state typically receives.

All told, Maine could lose $117,422 that’s usually distributed to local schools.

Last August, MDE announced changes to how the state would administer standardized testing, with a new focus on testing throughout the year to measure progress rather than testing only at the end of a school year.

Maine education officials told that they expected to have the issue resolved before the March 27 deadline established in the letter.

To do so, MDE will have to develop plans to align testing specifications and standards to federal requirements and prove later in the year that it executed on those federally aligned plans.

Read the letter here:


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