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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) _ The Maine Department of Education has signed up New Hampshire-based Measured Progress Inc. for new statewide English and math tests given to students in third through eighth grades.

AUGUSTA, Maine — It's been nearly a year since the Maine Department of Education has had a leader who didn't have the words "Acting Commissioner" in their job title.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage announced late Friday that Dr. William Beardsley would become the state's latest acting education chief.

Appointing acting leaders allows LePage to have someone he wants in the top job, for six months at a time, without having to go through a confirmation battle in the Legislature.

Jay Field / MPBN

ORONO, Maine — Virtual reality simulations are changing how people train to enter a growing number of interactive professions. The University of Maine is the latest educational institution to begin using this approach to prepare teachers in training.

AUGUSTA, Maine — It's been 12 years since voters approved an initiative requiring the state to fund 55 percent of the cost of public education in Maine.

HARTLAND, Maine — More states are increasingly turning to children's savings accounts as a way of promoting a "college-going" culture and reducing student loan debt over the long term.

Maine is recognized as a national leader on this front.

But getting large numbers of families in the state, especially low-income ones, to save for their youngest members has been a challenge.

List of Maine's Top High Schools Contains Errors

May 15, 2015

A report from earlier this week listing the nation's top high schools — on which a number of Maine schools appeared — contains apparent errors.

In its annual rankings of the nation's high schools, U.S. News and World Report used enrollment data from the 2012-2013 school year from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Answers to your questions about Common Core.

Guests:  Tom Keller with the Maine Math & Science Alliance
Amy Johnson, Assistant Director - Center for Education Policy, Applied Research, and Evaluation at the University of Southern Maine.
Sally Laughlin, curriculum director for Cumberland/N.Yarmouth schools.

Jay Field / MPBN

AUGUSTA, Maine - A top Democratic lawmaker in the Maine House wants to make sure parents know they have the right to opt their school-age children out of taking standardized tests.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Education Association brought teachers from across the state to Augusta to discuss what they say is a devastating education budget proposal by Gov. Paul LePage.

Acting Education Commissioner Tom Desjardins was quick to fire back, saying support for Maine schools from the state is at record levels.

The MEA says the aid to local schools proposed by LePage is flat funded at a time when the costs of running schools, from salaries to supplies, continues to go up.

What is a 'rural education' and what does the future hold for rural schools?

Guests:  Gordon A. Donaldson, Jr. Ed.D., Professor Emeritus of Education, University of Maine.
  Mara Tieken, Assistant Professor at Bates College and author of "Why Rural Schools Matter." 
  Todd West, principal at Deer Isle-Stonington High School.

How technology is used in Maine's public schools, from IPads in kindergarten to the middle school laptop program.

Guests:  Jeff Mao, Learning Technology Policy Director, Maine Department of Education (last day on the job is 9/5/14).  New Position - Senior Director, Learning Solutions Programs, Common Sense Media

Anne Macdonald, Technology Integration, K-8 Falmouth School Department

Andrew Wallace, Director of Technology, South Portland School Department, Technology Integration, K-8 Falmouth School Department

Tom Porter / MPBN

The Portland Public School Department plans to launch an online program this year. The district is trying to get a slice of the virtual school pie as it faces competition for students — and funding. But some educators remain skeptical of yet another online option. Portland officials say it's an important — and innovative — option for students.

The first day of school is a busy one for Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk. He rides his bike to district schools to personally welcome students back.

Jennifer Mitchell / MPBN

SKOWHEGAN, Maine — In Maine this week, tens of thousands of school children are headed back to class. And many of those kids may be getting on the morning bus with an empty stomach. By some estimates, nearly one in four Maine children live in homes where the food supply is uncertain, and educators in some of Maine's poorest communities are looking to a new federal program that offers free lunch and free breakfast to all students, regardless of income.

AUGUSTA, Maine — An increase in the number of out-of-state students enrolled in University of Maine System schools this fall is providing a financial boost for the cash-strapped system.

The Portland Press Herald reports that as of Aug. 10 commitments from out-of-state students — who pay nearly three times the in-state tuition — are up 12 percent over the same time last year.

More than 1,500 new out-of-state students will attend the system's seven campuses, 162 more than last year.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine is getting nearly $84,000 from the federal government to help subsidize the cost of the advanced placement exams for low-income students.

The U.S. Department of Education said that the $83,961 that Maine will receive is part of $28.4 million in grants being distributed nationwide.

The department says that the money that will go toward paying for the test fees is designed to encourage more low-income students to take the exams that can help them get college credit while still in high school.