Heidi’s Short History of the Guiding Principles

I was the lead Department of Education staff person who supported the State Board of Education’s Task Force on Learning Results. The Task Force was charged with developing a vision for education in Maine, a five-year plan to work toward it, and the development of a new set of state standards to replace Maine’s original Common Core of Learning. The vision was developed by stakeholders representing business, education, nonprofits, parents, and community members.

The standards development process began with the Guiding Principles. Six regional leadership teams were formed to collect information from as many stakeholders as possible. We collected 5000 lists of the knowledge and skills students, parents, business leaders, community members, and educators wanted students to demonstrate before leaving school. The Task Force rearranged the 5000 lists into the five Guiding Principles and their descriptors.

The Task Force considered stopping their standards development work with the Guiding Principles, but there were strong voices advocating for content standards in all of the eight content areas commonly offered in high schools. The Task Force’s compromise was that each identified content standard must lead to one or more of the Guiding Principles.

Some data from my report to the legislature:
• 320 people representing 22 stakeholder groups developed a vision for education in Maine. 120 additional stakeholders affirmed that vision. The executive boards of all state education associations voted to support it.
• Each school district in the state was invited to nominate a teacher to participate in the development of the content standards and 80% sent at least one teacher. 350 teachers developed the standards.
• Public hearings were held in five regions of the state to get feedback on the draft content standards and 18 regional afternoon and evening stakeholder forums were held around the state to introduce the standards and get additional feedback.
• The Learning Results were printed in a weekend newspaper supplement and also mailed to 8000 educators and 3500 citizens involved in some way in standards development.