Education Department supports schools with new improvement webinar series

AUGUSTA – As educators look to better support student success following the release of the state’s new letter grades, the Maine Department of Education is offering a series of school improvement webinars.

The one-hour webinars begin this Thursday and are free for educators.

Topics to be covered in the four June sessions include: maximizing the department’s new online data resource center to understand a school’s strengths and opportunities; using data to inform planning for the 2013-2014 school year; incorporating the key characteristics of effective schools; and strategies low income schools in Maine have successful used to increase student achievement.

Presenters include Maine DOE Chief Academic Officer Rachelle Tome, Director of the Statewide Longitudinal Data System Bill Hurwich, department school improvement specialists and guests from Maine schools.

Recordings of the webinars will be available on the department’s educator resources webpage following each session. Those who are unable to participate are invited to submit topic-relevant questions in advance to communications.doe@maine.gov.

The webinars will resume in August following a brief hiatus while schools are on summer break.

The new Maine School Performance Grading System, which uses a familiar A-F scale to grade schools, was launched by Governor Paul R. LePage and Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen last month. The report cards present existing reading and mathematics assessment data – and in the case of high schools, graduation rates – in an understandable way that engages educators and the public in supporting continuous school improvement.

Maine DOE has itself made internal improvements to best position the department as a resource for schools as they implement improvement initiatives in response to the report cards’ revelations.

“Our A-F grading system has been the catalyst for an incredible statewide conversation on school improvement,” said Commissioner Bowen. “The capacity to change is within our schools and DOE is committed to providing them the tools they need to be successful in giving all Maine students the education they deserve.”

In the past month, the department’s regional representatives and Title I consultants have been reaching out to “D” and “F” schools to learn their challenges and needs for support. Maine DOE is also learning about the strategies and interventions those schools already have in place that are beginning to show success and could be replicated elsewhere.

The department has additionally proposed $3 million in funding specifically for school improvement work, and two advisory councils are being launched this summer, one by the Governor to get direct teacher feedback and the other by Commissioner Bowen to expand effective professional development for educators.

For more information on Maine DOE’s school improvement webinars, including to sign-up, visit www.maine.gov/doe/educators.

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