2017 PPI Score
School Choice Score: 62%
Maine’s Town Tuitioning Program is the second oldest school choice program in the nation. The program, launched in 1873, allows students from a town without a public school to attend either a public school in another town or a non-religious private school.
Charter Schools Score: 65%
Maine’s charter sector is weak due to heavy regulations that prevent strong charters from opening.
Maine’s places heavy requirements on prospective charter schools when they apply to get authorized. These requirements not only discourage some proven providers from starting charter schools in Maine but also prevent many small “mom and pop” charter schools from ever being opened. Both of these factors mean that the students in Maine lose out on great schools that could fit their academic needs far better than a traditional public school.
Maine earned a D on CER’s most recent charter school law rankings. Despite schools in Maine being very autonomous after being authorized the only body that can authorize charter schools in Maine is the state board of education and there is no appeal. A consequence of this is that it is difficult to start charter schools in Maine and the charter sector in Maine hasn’t grown.
- Fast Facts
- Law Passed: 2011
- Number of Charter Schools: 9
- Estimated Charter School Enrollment: 2000 (up 33percent from 2015-16)
- Maine does have a cap on the number of charter schools
- Virtual Charter Schools are Permitted
- Charter Schools can contract with EMOs and CMOs for management purposes.
- Maine earned a five out of fifteen points for authorizers. In Maine, there are two bodies that can authorize charter schools: public school districts and the Maine Charter School Commission. School districts not been active in authorizing charter schools. Further, decisions by the Maine charter school commission have been incredibly regulated and controlled by the state board of education. Strong charter schools need strong authorizers who are willing to authorize schools that help kids and who defend the schools from needless regulations, even when they may not be the most politically prudent thing to do. This large level of interference by the State Board of Education makes the Maine Charter School Commission a weak authorizer and has adversely affected the health of the charter school movement in Maine. Additionally, decisions made by either type of authorizer are not subject to appeal, removing the ability for charter applicants to fight back against arbitrary or capricious application decisions.
- Maine earned a two out of fifteen for growth. They earned this score because there is a cap of no more than ten charters authorized by the state commission through 2022. Additionally, no more than 5-10percent (depending on district size) of a district’s enrollment may be enrolled in a charter school in the charter’s first three years. All of these arbitrary policies serve to deny opportunities to students who need them.
- Maine earned a twelve out of twenty for operations. In Maine charter schools have an exemption from most regulations in statute, and in practice are not regulated by state and local communities. While this lack of regulation is good, Maine regulates charter applicants heavily, which adversely affects the ability for successful charter schools to expand. Additionally, charter school teachers must be certified in the same manner that traditional public school teachers are. The resulting effects of this policy is that it prevents individuals who have not gone through the bureaucratic measures of teacher certification from working with students, even if the charter schools thinks they are the right individual for the job.
Maine earned a seven out of fifteen for funding equity. Maine’s law states that the per-pupil operating funding (minus administrative fees) should pass to the charter schools, but the law is not specific enough to ensure equity. All authorizers are allowed to take a three percent authorizer fee in addition to a one percent fee that is retained by the district. Schools in Maine do not receive per pupil facilities funding, but schools that wish to run PreK programs do receive per pupil PreK funding.
Online Learning Score: 75%
Although, Maine scores very high for allowing for multiple providers of online learning. Maine does have one fully online charter school, which opened in August 2014.
Teacher Quality Score: 72%
Delivering Well Prepared Teachers D+
Expanding the Pool of Teachers C-
Identifying Effective Teachers D-
Retaining Effective Teachers C
Exiting Ineffective Teachers C