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Good morning. This is Governor John Baldacci.

Accountability, effective teachers and student success go hand-in-hand.

Most teachers and principals work hard, and are committed to improving.

And their efforts translate into successful schools and students.

They deserve to be recognized for their performance.

But a few teachers and principals need more support. They aren’t getting the results that parents expect.

Our students deserve the best teachers and principals.

And the health of our economy demands high-achieving students who are prepared for college and careers.

Before adjourning last month, the Legislature approved a bill to allow using student achievement as one of the factors in evaluating teachers and principals.

This reform is coming, to Maine and the rest of the country.

In fact, some schools in Maine already are on board.

It’s time that we apply this tool more widely.

We know that evaluating teachers based, in part, on student achievement leads to significant improvements by students.

And as we work to implement the law, I have formed a stakeholder’s group to work on this issue.

The group includes teachers, principals, superintendents and a range of educational professionals.

Their goal is to work quickly to develop a model for tying together student performance and teacher evaluations that can be used by local school districts.

The work is that important.

I have set an aggressive timeline for the group to deliver results.

Earlier this week I sat down with this group of 10 educators at their first meeting.

Their task is challenging.

They must develop a fair and credible way to evaluate teacher performance.

It has to encourage excellent teachers and principals and not penalize others for things they cannot control.

It must encourage teachers and administrators to work together.

And it must deliver results.

It is not easy work.

To be successful, teachers and administrators will have to move past differences.

No one can draw lines in the sand. We want to build a consensus around reform, but we must make changes.

The bickering over past grievances has to stop, and everyone – teachers’ union and administrators – must work in good-faith to improve classroom performance.

If they’re not willing to do that, then they are putting past fights ahead of Maine’s students.

And I cannot accept that.

We need action soon.

Maine is applying for $75 million in additional federal funds through the Race to the Top grant program.

Maine can’t apply until we have at least one evaluation method that is available to all our schools.

The deadline is May 14.

The Department of Education has suggested a method of evaluating teachers that is supported by the National Education Association, superintendents and others.

It’s already working in more than 200 districts around the country.

And has led to significant improvement in student achievement where it has been implemented over the past 10 years.

In addition, it provides teachers with much needed and appreciated feedback for improvement.

Our goal is to create great teachers and great leaders, and give our students every opportunity for success.

Moving beyond the May deadline, the stakeholders will develop other options for evaluating teachers.

And local school districts will have a choice about which method to use and whether or not to tie student performance to teacher evaluations.

As with any change, there are legitimate concerns about teachers being unfairly graded.

That’s why it’s critical that teaches have a seat at the table and fully participate in this effort.

The work is necessary, and it’s the right thing to do.

It’s critical for our Race to the Top application, but it’s bigger than that.

Improved student performance and teacher evaluations are being incorporated at the national level.

Putting this reform in place will likely be part of the requirements for ongoing federal support for K-12 education in Maine.

Our State has great teachers and great schools.

We need to empower both to be better.

With the stakes so high, I am hopeful that all parties can set aside old fights, and develop ways to assure our students have the best teachers in the country.

Thank you and have a good weekend.

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