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Maine schools at risk of losing federal funding

The United States Department of Education sent a letter to Maine DOE Commissioner Pender Makin explaining that Maine is not in compliance with federal assessments.

MAINE, USA — The United States Department of Education says Maine students are not being assessed correctly in reading, language arts, or math. As a result, the state is now labeled "high risk" and could lose federal funding.

The U.S. Department of Education is threatening to withhold 25 percent of a grant the state currently gets for low-achieving and low-income students.

That's $117,422 Maine could lose out on.

In a statement, the U.S. Department of Education wrote:

"Maine reported assessment results that fundamentally fail to meet ESEA requirements for each of the last two school years (2020-21 and 2021-22). Specifically, the state did not appropriately set and align criterion-referenced achievement standards on their assessments that would indicate to parents when students were exceeding, meeting, or below the state's content standards."

The Maine DOE has until next Monday to respond to the federal government to explain why it should not withhold this money. Commissioner Pender Makin was not available for an interview on Monday but a spokesperson for the department said in an email that it will respond to the letter and hopes to see this issue resolved soon.

The email also said that the state has been using a federal assessment program for three years and has studied those assessments and added, "the Department strongly believes that Maine's temporary assessment was in full compliance with Federal law."

According to its assessment, almost 84 percent of students are at or above where they should be.

While the state has to respond next week to keep its funding, it also has to prove by the end of the year that it's back on track with federal assessment standards. 

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