The following was agreed to by the MEA Board of Directors on October 5, 2013
MEA Position on Common Core and Smarter Balanced Assessments
The Maine Education Association favors aspirational goals for all Maine students. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have been developed by educational leaders including representatives of the NEA, governors, and state commissioners of education. MEA believes that Common Core State Standards may help lead the way to classroom curriculum based on students' needs. MEA recognizes students with unique challenges will require alternative curriculum and assessments to meet individual needs. We do not believe our students’ educational needs would be met if teachers were forced to follow a federal curriculum. Therefore, implementation strategies will be important as Maine moves toward the Common Core Standards.
In Maine the SMARTER Balanced Assessment, which is intended to align with the Common Core State Standards, was selected as the student test in English language-arts and mathematics for grades 3-8 and grade 11. (These grades may change). SMARTER Balanced Assessment will replace the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) in school year 2014-15. At MEA we are beginning to hear concerns that arise from a fear of over-reliance on students’ standardized test scores when evaluating student progress, the use of these scores as a basis for teacher evaluations, and a lack of public awareness by parents and community members about the use of Common Core State Standards and SMARTER Balanced Assessments.
Implementation of the Common Core State Standards and related assessments will require careful planning and coordinated effort throughout Maine from a variety of stakeholders including parents, teachers, administrators, and Department of Ed officials. At the present time MEA believes that the disparity between districts and the way the CCSS is being interpreted and implemented is a top concern.
Implementation of a proficiency based diploma is premature. Decisions on the uses of standards should be left to the local school district and those who are professional educators. It is imperative that teachers preK-12 have sufficient time, resources, and coordination to make this effort successful for Maine’s public school students. Professional development, training and other opportunities for educator growth must be included as implementation proceeds. The implementation process will be a long-term endeavor and will require time to be successful.
MEA will remain vigilant as the implementation of both the standards and the new assessments move forward.
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