Educate Maine Calls for State to Improve All Elements of Education

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In a recent report by Educate Maine, the group stated that Maine has done little to improve education in the state in the previous year.

The group, made of business leaders and educators, is asking business leaders throughout the state to increase their support of high school students in an effort to raise graduation rates and the number of students ready to go on to college and future careers.

According to the report, Maine comes in behind other New England states on education indicators such as preschool enrollment, math and reading proficiency, and college graduation rates.

The report found that currently, full-day kindergarten programs are offered in 88% of school districts within the state.  The group would like to see this number rise t0 100% by 2019.  The average percentage of high schoolers to graduate in the state is 86%; the goal is to raise that percentage to 90% by 2019.

Educate Maine said that residents pay 32% of their per capita income on higher education.  The group would like to see that number shrink to 26%, the same percentage as other New England states.

A comparison of last year’s report – the first of its kind – with this year’s shows no improvement.  While a number of policies are already in place to improve test scores and graduation rates, Colleen Quint, interim executive director of Educate Maine, said the group needs “to continue to pay attention to make sure the vision of those policies continues.”

“We hope the findings of this report will increase engagement and a positive dialogue and will strengthen the support needed to increase educational opportunities for all of Maine students,” Tim Hussey, president of Hussey Seating, said.

Created in 2011, Educate Maine holds the goal of raising college graduation rates, thereby increasing the number of workers armed with the skills necessary to enter the workforce.  The organization would like to see 50% of the state’s citizens hold a college degree, certificate or industry credential by 2023.  If this goal is met, the state would reach the projected New England average for that year.

The report, Education Indicators for Maine, found that 86% of high school students in the state are graduating, but only half of those students are proficient in reading and math, according to standardized test scores.

Only half of the students who graduate high school in the state go on to attend college, according to Chris Hall, CEO of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Of the students who attend college, only 67% will graduate in 6 years or less.  The average across New England is 74%.

“The world is changing,” Hall said. “The nature of work is changing. To participate in the economy today, you have to have a different set of skills than you did 10 years ago.  I can’t think of anything that’s more important to our economic future than to get the education puzzle right.”

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