MSMA: Maine below N.E. average on students needing remedial work

Maine School Management Association Bulletin
Jan. 11, 2013

Maine below N.E. average on students needing remedial work

A report just released by the University of Maine System shows Maine is well below the New England average when it comes to the percentage of students needing remedial work in reading and math.

The report shows only 12 percent of high school students who entered the University System as freshman in September of 2012 needed remedial work in those core areas, as opposed to the New England average of 24 to 39 percent, depending on the type of institution.

That 12 percent is also about half of the 20 to 25 percent rate Gov. Paul LePage referenced this summer when he attacked Maine’s public school systems as a backdrop to pushing his education reform agenda.

“This report presents a far more accurate picture of how schools are doing in preparing our kids,” said Maine School Boards Association President Kristin Malin. “As a state, we need to recognize our accomplishments and focus on the areas that need improvement, instead of tearing down our public school system.”

Senate President Justin Alfond applauded the report.

“This is good news,” said Alfond. “This report shows we're doing something right. Today is a day to celebrate our successes with an eye towards excellence, not to denigrate our students and professional educators. We have students eager to learn, educators dedicated to teaching, and administrators working hard to ensure the best experience for our students. I am proud of their work and I look forward to continuing our efforts to strengthen public education.”

Sen. Brian Langley, R-Hancock, who serves on the Education Committee and is a former chair of that group, also was pleased with the report.

“It tells me that students are being better prepared to meet the challenges of university work,” Langley said.

An area that needs focus, he said, is the 50 percent remediation rate reported by the Community College System.

Langley is a proponent of the so-called “bridge-year” approach to getting high school students interested in and ready for college work. Currently being piloted in Hermon, the program brings together the University System, the Community College System, public high schools and Career and Technical Education schools as partners to allow juniors and seniors to take college-level work for credit. It introduces students to the type of rigor they will encounter in higher education.

“I call it pre-medial,” Langley said. “It works because they have support groups and there is less angst about asking their high school teacher, who they know well, for help.”

It also allows students to earn credits at much lower costs – $35 per credit hour – and avoid the cost of taking remedial classes at the university or college level.

Both the University and Community College System were required by a law passed in 2011 to submit their reports on remedial education to the Legislature. Those reports will be updated annually.

Contact: Cornelia Brown, executive director
Victoria Wallack, communications director
Telephone: 207-622-3473 or 1-800-660-8484