- Fifth-grader Maisie Whelchel teaches Education Commissioner Jim Rier a math card game called "lightning" during the Department's recent school improvement focused tour of Montello Elementary in Lewiston.
- Preliminary ED 279s coming this month March 6, 2014
- Commissioner concerned about Medicaid expansion impact on education February 27, 2014
- K-12 should take note of higher ed’s voluntary move to proficiency-based system February 20, 2014
Author Archives: Samantha Warren
From the Maine DOE
The Department is very close to completing the creation of the preliminary State subsidy printouts, known as ED 279s. As soon as those are finalized, we will post them on our website and immediately alert superintendents and business managers via a priority notice.
It will be important for districts to remember that those printouts will reflect the currently enacted biennial budget, and will likely be adjusted as the Legislature responds to current and projected budget shortfalls, including the $9.5 million General Purpose Aid reduction already proposed by the State’s Office of Policy and Management.
In past years, the Department would send out a general subsidy spreadsheet in February and the actual ED 279s in April. After hearing for years from superintendents that it is the ED 279s and the extensive information they provide that is of most value to informing the local budget preparation process, our Finance Team has refocused its efforts to get those out much earlier and are pleased we will be able to do that in early March.
Notices and Reporting
- Qualified School Construction Bond (QSCB) Federal Tax Credit Bond Application (Reminder), due March 14
- Highly Qualified Teacher Data, due March 31
- EPS April 1 Enrollment Reporting, due April 15
- Private School April 1 Enrollment Reporting, due April 30
- 2014 Maine Educator Talent Pool Recommendations (Reminder), due May 2
News & Views
AUGUSTA – Education Commissioner Jim Rier released the following statement this week in response to the Maine Charter School Commission’s approval of the state’s first public virtual charter school. The unanimous approval authorizes the independent Commission to enter into contract negotiations with Maine Connections Academy, which plans to start serving as many as 300 students from across the state this fall. | More
Maine DOE Director of Policy and Programs Deborah Friedman spoke to the Maine Legislature’s Education Committee this week in support of the Department’s provisionally-adopted Chapter 180: Performance Evaluation and Professional Growth Systems rule. | More
Maine is now accepting applications for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) for the 2014-15 school year. Applications must be completed for each school that is eligible for participation. | More
March 15 marks Statehood Day, which according to State statute is intended to “commemorate the admission of Maine as a state into the United States of America and the ideals and wisdom of those men and women who have formed Maine’s history and traditions.” Maine schools are urged to observe the day and a number of online resources are available to support classroom learning and celebrations. | More
The Maine DOE has recently added a new Standards in a Proficiency-Based Education page to its Getting to Proficiency website with resources intended to support educators as they make these local decisions. | More
The Frank H. Harrison Middle School in Yarmouth has been named as one of 15 national finalists for the Samsung Solve to Tomorrow Grant. The environmental issue students focused on for the competition was the invasive European Green Crab that is currently having a negative impact on Maine’s shellfish industry and coastal environments. | More
The Maine Principals Association will host a day-long interactive workshop with an international educational and communications consultant who will focus on how school and districts leaders can successfully communicate with supervisees, peers and supervisors in a wide range of difficult situations. | More
The Maine Charter School Commission voted today to approve the state’s first virtual charter school, which could begin start serving students this fall
AUGUSTA – Education Commissioner Jim Rier released the following statement today in response to the Maine Charter School Commission’s approval of the state’s first public virtual charter school.
The unanimous approval authorizes the independent Commission to enter into contract negotiations with Maine Connections Academy, which plans to start serving as many as 300 students from across the state this fall. Continue reading
Maine DOE Director of Policy and Programs Deborah Friedman spoke to the Maine Legislature’s Education Committee today in favor of the Department’s provisionally-adopted Chapter 180: Performance Evaluation and Professional Growth Systems rule. The rule establishes standards and procedures for implementation of performance evaluation and professional growth systems (known as PE/PG systems) for teachers and principals that each school administrative unit is required to have developed and fully-implemented by the 2015-16 school year. The purpose of a PE/PG system is to improve educator effectiveness by establishing clear expectations for professional practice and student learning/growth and providing actionable feedback and support to help educators meet them.
Earlier this year, Commissioner Rier urged the Legislature to act quickly on the rule and adopt what the Department has thoughtfully put forth in the bipartisan spirit in which the educator effectiveness law was initially enacted. Doing so will not only give districts the direction they deserve, but more importantly, is perhaps the single most important action we can take in Augusta this legislative session to put Maine’s students first.
Friedman delivered the following testimony:
Senator Millett, Representative MacDonald, and Members of the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs:
My name is Deborah Friedman, Director of Policy and Programs for the Department of Education, and I am here today representing the Department speaking in support of L.D. 1747, Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 180: Performance Evaluation and Professional Growth Systems, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Education.
Rule Chapter 180 fleshes out an important law that was passed 2 years ago, An Act to Ensure Effective Teaching and School Leadership. That law laid out the basic framework for comprehensive systems of evaluation and support for teachers and principals, which are to be locally developed, piloted and implemented.
You may recall that the Department brought this rule before you last year, but the Resolve authorizing us to finally adopt the rule (LD 1542) failed to gain the 2/3rds vote necessary for emergency passage, so we were required to begin another rulemaking process. I have attached the testimony from last year, which contains some background information that you may be interested in reviewing. I have also attached a summary of the law and the entire rule. Rather than going through all of that with you at this time, I would like to highlight a few of the items that have been of most concern to the Legislature and to commenters over the past couple of years.
The rule before you today covers the same subjects as the 2013 rule, but is different in many ways. Changes to the rule were inspired by a review of the committee and floor amendments from last year, by the comments and discussions made during the legislative process, and by the addition to the Department of Mary Paine, our Educator Effectiveness Coordinator, who has brought important expertise and perspective to the work.
Key elements of the rule, and changes made since you last reviewed the rule, include:
- Sections 5 and 6 of the rule provide benchmarks by which the professional practice of teachers and principals will be measured (InTASC standards for teachers and ISLLC standards for principals). The language of the rule has been changed to clarify that a “set of professional practice standards” must include standards, descriptors and a set of rubrics.
- Section 7, Student Learning and Growth Measures, contains provisions that have raised the greatest amount of concern and led to the greatest number of public comments. This section has been changed considerably in response to those concerns. It contains the criteria for determining what measures of student learning growth are acceptable for use in performance evaluation and professional growth (PE/PG) systems; what portion of an educator’s summative effectiveness rating must be based on student learning and growth; and which student’s growth is attributed to a particular teacher, the “teacher of record” issue.
- With regard to the criteria for determining which types of student growth measures may be used, this version of the rule requires that multiple measures of student growth be used, and that large-scale norm-referenced standardized tests may not be the sole type of measure used.
- The portion of an educator’s final effectiveness rating that is based on student growth is regulated by state law, which states that “measurements of student learning and growth must be a significant factor.” Other than this requirement, the law says that “the proportionate weight of the standards and the measures is a local decision.” The rule therefore defines when a student growth measure is considered “significant.” If a school uses the percentage method (as opposed to a matrix), the prior rule started with a minimum of 20% and increased to 25%. This version of the rule does not include the increase to 25%.
- The rule filed with you last year proposed to create a working group to define teacher of record. This committee was unanimous in its rejection of that proposal – instead calling for a definition that ensures that a student’s academic achievement is not attributed to a teacher unless the student was in class and taught by that teacher for at least 80% of the scheduled instructional time. This rule adopts that 80% requirement, and includes additional process requirements such as notifying teachers of which students are likely to have their growth included in the teacher’s rating. The only exception to the 80% requirement would be for the use of “collective measures,” which would have to be agreed to by each teacher. Collective measures would be allowed in order to encourage and honor achievements that result from team-teaching or from school-wide learning initiatives. Again, they could only be used if the teacher agreed.
- Section 11 of the rule relates to implementation requirements. This rule version fleshes out the standards for training of evaluators, and requires that the educator be told the name and contact information for the person responsible for overseeing the evaluation and support process for that educator. The rule also adds a provision to ensure that all educators receive a full evaluation at least every 3 years; the rule allows for less-than-annual evaluations depending on a person’s effectiveness rating. The US Department of Education when they looked at an earlier version of the rule asked us to ensure that evaluations are done no less frequently than every 3 years, even for highly-effective educators. Regardless of how often formal evaluations are performed, observations of professional practice and formative feedback must occur every year and throughout the year for all educators.
Those are the key elements of the rule, and in particular the elements of the rule that have been changed from previous versions. I would be happy to go into greater detail on any aspect of the rule either now or at work session.
The Department believes that the rule before you sets forth appropriate guidelines for the development and implementation of performance evaluation and professional growth systems, is within the scope of authority of the Department, and is consistent with the basic framework for those systems as set out in Title 20-A, chapter 508.
For these reasons, the Department of Education is testifying in support of LD 1747, Resolve, Regarding Legislative Review of Chapter 180: Performance Evaluation and Professional Growth Systems, a Major Substantive Rule of the Department of Education. I’m happy to try to answer any questions you may have, and I will be here for the work session.
Maine schools have positive climates and State agencies are proactive in providing them meaningful safety-related resources, but there are extensive opportunities to better ensure safety.
Those are the high-level findings of two school security reports the Maine DOE overviewed to the Legislature’s Education Committee this week. Continue reading
Focusing funding on professional development, communicating early and often with educators and parents, and the need for strong leadership were the leading learnings that emerged in an analysis of the case studies currently featured on the Maine DOE’s Center for Best Practice. Continue reading
Welcome to the February issue of the Maine DOE Monthly.
Our Department continues to deliver on our promise to support schools, especially in their implementation of critical work like the proficiency-based diploma, educator effectiveness evaluations, and new standards and assessments. This month, we provided new resources that directly help educators and administrators, including sample policies for proficiency-based education systems, approved educator effectiveness models, guidance on merging certification support and performance evaluation systems, and expanded suicide prevention and awareness training.
We’re also excited to announce that last Thursday following unanimous confirmation by the Maine Legislature’s Education Committee and then the Maine Senate, Jim Rier was sworn-in by Governor LePage as Maine’s Commissioner of Education. If you haven’t had the opportunity to work with Jim in his years of service to Maine schools and students first as a member of the State Board of Education and since 2003 here at the Department, you can learn more about him here.
Dispatches & Press Releases
AUGUSTA – Nominations are open through Feb. 28 for the 2015 Maine Teacher of the Year. For the first time since the Maine DOE recognition program launched in 1954, the public is being invited to join school and district leaders in going online to directly nominate educators for the prestigious statewide distinction, the winner of which serves as an advocate for Maine’s teachers, students and education system. | More
K-12 should take note of higher ed’s voluntary move to proficiency-based education, Commissioner says
Last week I had the opportunity to participate in the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s (UMPI) exciting announcement they would be moving to a proficiency-based system beginning next fall. I believe UMPI’s voluntary adoption of this model sends a strong message to the K-12 system that proficiency-based is the new normal in Maine education – not just because it is required by State statute, but because it is the right thing to do for kids. | More
All of us share a commitment to ensuring our schools are physically and emotionally safe and supportive places for students to learn and thrive. As your Commissioner of Education, I want you to know our Department is collaborating with others to take serious steps to help students before they harm themselves. | More
The Maine State Board of Education is accepting applications for potential student members from schools in the Second Congressional District. | More
The Maine Charter School Commission will vote at its March 3 meeting on whether to move forward the applications of three public charter schools proposed to open in Maine this fall. | More
To support school administrative units (SAUs) in continuing with work already underway when the rule was originally proposed in 2013 as well as SAUs who are just beginning to explore professional practice models, the Department has posted and will update as needed the Maine DOE Menu of Approved Professional Practice Models along with information about the requirements for a model on its Educator Effectiveness website. | More
District policies are critical supports for proficiency-based education and successful locally-led implementation may require the revision of existing district policies. Many school districts around the state are currently engaged in discussions to revise policies to reflect their proficiency-based systems. | More
In preparation for supporting provisionally certified teacher-candidates as they work toward State professional certification, local Professional Learning Community Support Systems (PLCSS) teams across Maine are gearing up to review their programs and deliver mentor training. | More
AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Education is seeking organizations to help provide low-income children healthy meals when school is not in session this summer. | More
Fostering candid self-evaluation, the self-assessment tool provided by Maine DOE leads districts through a comprehensive set of questions focused on policy, practice and community engagement aspects of implementation. | More
The Maine Charter School Commission will vote at its March 3 meeting on whether to move forward the applications of three public charter schools proposed to open in Maine this fall. Continue reading
AUGUSTA – Nominations are now open for the 2015 Maine Teacher of the Year.
For the first time since the Maine Department of Education recognition program launched in 1954, the public is being invited to join school and district leaders in going online to directly nominate educators for the prestigious statewide distinction, the winner of which serves as an advocate for Maine’s teachers, students and education system. Previously, only school principals and superintendents could put forth a candidate for consideration. Continue reading
Maine is an international leader in advancing digital learning opportunities for its students, and schools across the state will celebrate that innovation Wednesday
AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage has proclaimed Wednesday as Digital Learning Day throughout Maine and his Administration will be joined by the state’s students and schools in recognizing the important opportunities digital learning provides. Continue reading