Stressed schools may soon get some relief.

The Maine Department of Education is expected to recommend changes to the Maine Learning Results, a new system of educational standards for public school students, within the next week.

Deputy Education Commissioner Patrick Phillips would not release details Tuesday, but said the department wants to slow the phase-in of the Learning Results to give schools and teachers extra time to adapt. He said the department does not want to scrap the Learning Results or get rid of the local assessment system that is tied to it.

He called the changes a “midcourse correction.”

The Learning Results was established in 1997 and is being phased in over several years. Each school system must create a complete system of local assessments as part of the Learning Results, with portfolios, tests and other evaluations for all students in all grades. Schools have spent years trying to develop those local assessments in the midst of other state and federal requirements.

This year’s freshmen must pass local assessments and show they meet the Learning Results standards in English, math, science, social studies and health in order to get a diploma in 2008.

School officials have said the requirements and the tight phase-in deadlines are causing a strain on students and teachers.

In December, Department of Education officials decided to review the Learning Results in an effort to relieve some pressure on schools.

“We’ll be looking to take some of that intensity off the table,” Phillips said Tuesday.

The department expects to release its final recommendations at the end of this week or the beginning of next, Phillips said.

Some of the proposed changes may be made by the Education Department alone, according to Phillips. Others will require legislative approval.


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