As more information becomes available on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) the Maine Education Association Board of Directors has been monitoring Maine's progress. Under the weight of poor implementation, inadequate supports for students and teachers, suspect assessments, and member dissatisfaction, the MEA Board of Directors continues the evolution of a position statement on CCSS. On Sunday, March 30, 2014, the Board met to continue the process of re-defining our position on Common Core.
Maine Education Association Position on Common Core State Standards
The Maine Education Association favors aspirational goals for all Maine students. For over two decades Maine has had a series of student learning standards and goals. The MEA supports the current CCSS standards with reservation, we have concerns about the development, implementation, developmental appropriateness, over use of assessment, and use of assessment scores in evaluation of students and teachers.
The development of CCSS included representatives of the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Education Association, and Achieve. The MEA believes that stakeholders should have included numerous teachers and classroom practitioners with experience working directly with students and parents.
The premise of the development of CCSS was that they would be student-centered and would include standards that help students develop critical learning/thinking skills. While the MEA supports this concept, the MEA finds that the CCSS and resulting evaluations are punitive and over-rely on high-stakes assessments. MEA believes that curriculum should be developmentally appropriate and should be based on students' needs. Students with unique challenges will require adaptations to lessons and testing.
Maine is required by the federal government to adopt curriculum standards and to test students annually or lose its federal funding. Standards adoption alters curriculum development, and limits teachers' ability to meet individual needs of students because the present CCSS model uses arbitrary benchmarks that no school has ever met. The supposed goal of assessing is to make sure every student meets these benchmark standards. MEA believes that implementation strategies must be adaptable and should be constantly reviewed for appropriateness.
In Maine the SMARTER Balanced Assessment, which is intended to align with CCSS, has been adopted as the preferred high-stakes assessment. MEA has several concerns with SMARTER Balanced Assessments. The overuse and misuse of high stakes standardized testing is detrimental to public education and our students. MEA insists that students deserve well-designed assessment tools that test the information being taught. Testing is most useful when there is adequate time for learning between test administrations and when results are used to inform instruction. Use of results from high stakes standardized testing in grading the success of schools is unfair and should include information on the inequities between schools in communities with high rates of poverty and those in affluent communities. The MEA rejects the use of test-based teacher evaluation frameworks.
Implementation of CCSS requires careful planning and a coordinated effort throughout Maine from all stakeholders including parents, teachers, administrators and Department of Education officials. MEA believes implementation efforts have not included all stakeholders. Lack of communication, lack of resources and the lack of necessary supports for successful implementation of CCSS are rampant within the schools of Maine, as are the missing voices of parents and teachers in decision-making.
The Maine Education Association calls for the following actions (as of Jan. 31, 2015):
- The immediate end to the use of high-stakes standardized testing
- A moratorium on the use of SMARTER Balanced Assessments
- The re-evaluation of CCSS as part of the Maine Learning Results in light of problems such as developmental appropriateness, lack of professional development for educators, lack of resources for student learning, etc.
- Recognition that without professional development and support CCSS becomes impossible to implement successfully
- The development of high-quality standards that are collaboratively developed and implemented by Maine educators
- Recognition that any adoption of new standards, or any changes to current standards, must include a full range of stakeholders in the vetting of such standards
- Adequate and sufficient time and training to ensure proper implementation of CCSS
- Adequate and appropriate funding and resources, including necessary technology, be made available to all school districts and practitioners that ensure support at all levels for successful implementation of standards; and
- Recognition that CCSS are not perfect as developed and require ongoing monitoring with immediate and periodic opportunities to revise and refine them by a full range of stakeholders