The pilot uses online double-blind scoring to grade student essays.

With Common Core State Standards (CCSS) now on 44 state agendas, it’s time to start thinking implementation. But leaders are saying it takes more than vendor press releases and simple classroom curriculum supplements—it takes research and a focus on teaching—and one state is leading the way in 21st century learning…again.

Maine, already known for its Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) and successful 1-to-1 computing program, is now in a unique collaboration with the University of Southern Maine’s research center and a Portland-based educational software company, AcademicMerit.

The collaboration will explore the use of technology-based solutions to help schools meet the demand of the CCSS through a pilot involving more than 23 schools, more than 30 teachers, and almost 1,500 students from districts all over Maine.

“Last year was frenetic, with states and districts making promises and submitting proposals left and right,” said Ogden Morse, chief executive of AcademicMerit and an English teacher on leave from Falmouth High School in Maine. “This year is what I refer to as ‘the pregnant pause,’ with many of those same folks asking, ‘So how are we actually going to do what we promised?’ As a result, right now, there are a lot of people in search of ‘what works.’ This pilot is an opportunity for the rest of the country to point in our direction and say ‘Well, look at what’s going on in Maine…’”

And though ultimately the goal of CCSS implementation is to improve student learning outcomes, one of the pilot’s main professional development goals is to help teachers assess student work.