2018 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 earns a “D” this year. While the law provides Maine charter schools a great deal of autonomy, Maine’s authorizers (a state commission and school districts) do not honor the tenets of the law, in practice. Maine’s charter sector remains small and hasn’t grown much in recent years.
- Law passed: 2011
- Number of charter schools: 9
- Estimated charter school enrollment: 2000 (up 33 percent from 2015-16)
- There are state and district (enrollment) caps on charter schools
- Virtual charter schools are permitted
- Charter schools can contract with EMOs and CMOs for management purposes
- Maine earns 5 out of 15 points for “authorizing.” Two bodies can authorize charter schools: public school districts and the Maine Charter School Commission. School districts have not been active in authorizing charter schools. Further, the state Board of Education heavily regulates the Maine Charter School Commission, effectively making it a weak authorizer that passes unnecessary regulations on to the schools it oversees. Also, problematic: 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 earns 2 of 15 points for “growth.” This very low score derives mainly from a cap on the number of charters (no more than 10) that the state Commission can authorize through 2022. Additionally, no more than 5-10 percent (depending on district size) of a district’s assigned students may be enroll in a charter school in the charter’s first three years. These arbitrary caps deny opportunities to students who need them.
- Maine earns 12 of 20 points for “operations.” Maine law exempts charter schools from most regulations that apply to districts. In practice, few districts authorize and regulate charter schools. This lack of regulation is positive. However, the state regulates charter applicants heavily, which adversely affects the ability of successful charter schools to expand. Additionally, the law requires charter school teachers to be certified. This requirement prevents individuals who have not gone through the bureaucratic measures of teacher certification from working with students and limits the ability of charter operators to assemble the staff that they choose.
Maine earns 7 of 15 points for “funding equity.” Maine’s law states that per-pupil operating funding (minus administrative fees) should flow to charter schools, but the law is not specific enough to ensure equity. The law entitles authorizers to a 3 percent authorizing fee. Sending districts may also retain a 1 percent fee. Schools in Maine do not receive per-pupil facilities funding, but schools that wish to run Pre-k programs receive per pupil Pre-k funding.
Teacher Quality Score: 68%
Delivering Well Prepared Teachers D-
Expanding the Pool of Teachers D-
Identifying Effective Teachers D
Retaining Effective Teachers D
Exiting Ineffective Teachers D
Overall State Grade D+