PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A new report released Tuesday examines Maine's education system to provide feedback on where the organization believes the state can improve on getting children ready for college and the workforce.
The report comes from the business-led education advocacy group "Educate Maine." It contains ten "indicators," which show where the state currently stands and the goals the organization has set for 2019. The indicators look at levels of achievement, as well as many early childhood education programs.
You can find the full report here.
Executive Director of Educate Maine Ed Cervone said early childhood programs are an important foundation of a child's success into college and the workforce.
"We've been really pounding the drum on the importance of early childhood education because it sets the foundation for everything we measure," Cervone said. "If you're not starting them early, and starting them strong, then you can forget about everything down the road, you're really taking a risk. I think that's finally hitting home."
Cervone said the state needs to make more effort to address the achievement gap that low-income students face.
"We need to make more effort to address the achievement gap, which is still a problem, by reaching more of our state's economically disadvantaged kids as early as possible with the learning programs they need to be able to succeed throughout the education pipeline," he said.
Cervone highlighted a few findings of the report.
Access to public pre-school is up: 72 percent of Maine districts now offer it, compared to 24 percent 10 years ago. Ninety-two percent of Maine districts also now offer full-day kindergarten.
Cervone said one problematic finding is that proficiency in reading and math has not improved for Maine's fourth-, eighth- and eleventh-grade students. He said economically disadvantaged students continue to fall behind their higher-income peers.
He said improving those skills is critical to build up Maine's workforce, which is currently aging out.
"A high school diploma alone is not what it is not what it used to be. You need some kind of trade, certificate, education," Cervone said. "Not only is there a moral imperative for educating people, but it really is our lead number one economic development strategy."