I read with interest the recent news report on attempts to weaken proficiency-based education in Maine (June 27).

As president of Maine’s largest business association, I hope our policymakers can complete their commitment to needed education reform and continue to strengthen the path toward proficiency for our learners.

Just as our workforces have changed and adapted over the years to meet the new needs – driven now by our place in an ever-changing and technologically driven global economy – so, too, should the way we teach our young people. Gone are the days when mere seat time and rote memorization were enough to create bright futures. Rewarding students for what they learn and can demonstrate under Maine’s proficiency-based education model is more aligned with the work worlds they will be entering.

We know that Maine has a skills gap. If current education and labor market trends continue, Maine will face a deficit of at least 15,000 high-skilled workers to fill the jobs of the future.

Maine businesses tell me every day that they have high-wage jobs with good benefits they cannot fill because of the lack of qualified workers.

Employers also say that young people entering their workplaces lack “deeper learning” skills: strong communication, problem-solving and collaboration abilities, as well as an interest in learning new skills.

If Maine is to compete and succeed in the global marketplace, we must reverse these trends.

Proficiency-based education provides rich, relevant and core academic curricula that prepare students for education and careers beyond high school, while also providing practical job skills, hands-on experience and connections to local employers.

The future of Maine’s economy depends upon the caliber of our workforce. Proficiency-based education helps create a strong workforce by equipping students to graduate college- and career-ready.

Dana Connors

president, Maine State Chamber of Commerce

Augusta


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