Frequently Asked Questions

What are academic standards?
Academic standards are a set of clear expectations for teachers, students and parents of what students need to know at each grade level. They set targets so that educators and parents can help students stay on a path that will prepare them to graduate high school and pursue the education, training or job they want. Standards matter. Research shows us accountability in every area of our lives yields results. Holding our schools accountable for the progress of our students is the only way we will transform education, remain internationally competitive and close achievement gaps.

How long has Maine had statewide academic standards?
For 16 years. The Maine Legislature adopted the Maine Learning Results standards in 1997 as one of the early states to do so. Now all states have academic standards. The Maine Learning Results standards include standards for eight content areas: education and career development, English language arts, health and physical education, mathematics, science, social studies, visual and performing arts, and world languages. In 2011, the Maine Learning Results were updated to include Common Core as the standards for English language arts and math.

Have Maine’s Learning Results standards been revised before?
Yes, three times. The goal was always to update the standards every few years to meet the evolving needs of college and careers in the 21st century. The first revision was a significant overhaul in 2007 of the standards in all eight content areas. In 2009, Maine revised the standards for English language arts and mathematics to align with the NECAP standards. This increased the rigor and saved Maine $1 million yearly by sharing an assessment with four other New England states. The third revision was in 2011, when the Legislature adopted the Common Core standards through a public process and Republican Governor Paul R. LePage signed into law their incorporation into Maine’s Learning Results.

Does Maine have a statewide curriculum?
No. In fact, both Maine state law and the Maine Constitution prohibit it. Curriculum is developed entirely at the local level.

Does the state determine which textbooks schools can use?
No. School districts and teachers make their own choices about textbooks and other educational materials to use in supporting students.

Will curriculum have to change as a result of the new standards?
Yes, but how educators do so remains entirely a local decision. Curriculum should align to the standards and the assessments that measure them. That’s been the case for 16 years under the Maine Learning Results standards. But there are many curricula and infinite ways teachers can instruct that will align to the standards. Which curriculum and teaching practices and materials are used is determined locally by school districts and classroom teachers.

How do standards help my child? How do the new ones help?
When students have a clear understanding of what is expected of them, they are much more likely to meet that expectation, and educators are better able to help them do that. With the new standards, there are fewer, clearer and higher expectations. The standards are also more grounded in real-world applications, like those that support problem-solving, creativity and communication. The standards will ensure our nation’s academic requirements are aligned to the expectations of higher education institutions and the needs of employers competing in the global economy, laying the foundation for securing our economic future.

We must believe in our students and that they are capable of meeting our raised expectations. The potential of Maine kids cannot be underestimated.

Who developed the Common Core standards?
Common Core standards came from the states. The Common Core were developed and adopted voluntarily by Maine and 44 other states, as well as the District of Columbia, by looking at every state’s standards and those in dozens of other high-performing education systems in the world. The groups that represent the nation’s governors and state education chiefs coordinated and led the work. There was no federal involvement, and Maine has not received any federal money to adopt the Common Core. The standards were developed by teachers, principals, parents, business leaders and education experts, including some from Maine, with feedback from the general public through a highly public process that included public meetings in each participating state.