Category Archives: Families

Maine DOE offers strategies to help ELLs demonstrate proficiency

All students in Maine, including English language learners, will need to demonstrate proficiency of both State learning standards and the Guiding Principles in order to graduate beginning in 2018. As schools plan educational opportunities for English language learners in the eight content areas of the Maine Learning Results and the five Guiding Principles, the Maine DOE is encouraging educators to consider the following strategies which may be helpful. Each are based on research on how best a concept or skill is learned in each of the content areas and the Guiding Principles, and the power of background knowledge to support English language learners.

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Maine celebrates Farm to School with local Harvest Week menu contest

Maine schools showed culinary creativity in their entries to the state’s inaugural Harvest Lunch Week menu contest, sponsored by the Maine DOE.

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Commissioner’s Update – October 16, 2014

From Maine Education Commissioner Jim Rier

Last week, I had the opportunity to spend two full days at the annual conference of the Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine (ACTEM). To say I was impressed and inspired by what I experienced would be an understatement. Maine has long been looked to as a national leader when it comes to integrating technology in the classroom and the energy and expertise I saw in the hundreds of technology educators at the conference proved why.

I was especially impacted by the session I attended entitled “A Day in the iPad Empowered Elementary Classroom.” To see how Maine educators are using technology to change the way they teach students is almost as exciting as seeing how students – including those only in Kindergarten – are responding. Maine kids are being engaged and empowered as leaders in their own learning through these new tools in ways that many adults like me can’t even imagine. It is critical we keep up with their appetite and aptitude by finding innovative ways to leverage technology to continue to improve not just the experience of our students but their academic achievement.

I want to thank Maine’s many technology educators who are doing just that in classrooms across the state every day. Not only are you enhancing the educational environment for our students, but you are better preparing them for success in 21st century college and careers.

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Notices and Reporting

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News & Views

Education Commissioner visiting Bangor schools today

Maine’s Education Commissioner will spend Thursday in the classrooms of the state’s third largest school district to see how proficiency-based education is transforming teaching and learning there. | More

Turner Elementary named Maine’s National Blue Ribbon School

Turner Elementary School in MSAD 52 is one of 287 public schools across the country to be named a 2014 National Blue Ribbon School for high levels of student achievement. | More

Charter Commission advances virtual school proposal, schedules public hearing

A second public virtual charter school being proposed in Maine was unanimously advanced to the next round of review by the state’s Charter Commission. | More

District leaders share educator evaluation system implementation strategies

A panel of district leaders who have experienced the challenges and the success of developing and implementing Performance Evaluation and Professional Growth (PEPG) systems shared their success strategies at a recent seminar. | More

MMSA selects Ruth Kermish-Allen as Executive Director

The board and staff of the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance have selected Ruth Kermish-Allen, currently Director of Education at the Island Institute and a resident of Appleton, as the organization’s next Executive Director. | More

Schools encouraged to prepare for Alcohol Awareness Day

Community groups and schools across the state will be conducting activities to raise awareness about alcohol use and abuse throughout Maine’s Alcohol Awareness Week, Dec. 1-5. | More

Maine schools encouraged to enter Verizon Innovative App Challenge

Maine schools are encouraged to enter the Verizon Innovative App Challenge, a creative and collaborative competition that offers up to $20,000 in grants for winning middle schools and high schools. | More

More Dispatches | Press Releases | From the Commissioner


LATEST DOE Career/Project Opportunities

Maine schools encouraged to enter Verizon Innovative App Challenge

Maine schools are encouraged to enter the Verizon Innovative App Challenge, a creative and collaborative competition that offers up to $20,000 in grants for winning middle schools and high schools. Designed to ignite students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), the Challenge shows students exciting new possibilities for their futures, opening doors they may never have known were there.

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Final deadline for proficiency-based diploma extension applications Oct. 18

The final deadline for districts looking for an extension in implementing a proficiency-based diploma requirement is next week.

Earlier this year, the Department released six extension request options to provide the time and support districts say they need to undertake the thoughtful, systemic change needed to ensure quality implementation of systems that support the awarding of proficiency-based diplomas starting in 2018.

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Schools recognize National School Bus Safety Week, Bus Driver Appreciation Day

Schools in Maine and across the nation are recognizing National School Bus Safety Week, Oct. 20 through 24. During the same week, schools will acknowledge the importance of bus drivers to a student’s education with Bus Driver Appreciation Day.

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Notice of proposed rule changes: Chapter 101, Maine Unified Special Education Regulation Birth to Age Twenty

The Maine DOE is proposing changes this fall to the rules regarding the provision of child find, early intervention services, and special education and related services to eligible children with disabilities age birth to 20.

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Guidance to Maine schools on EV-D68

The following guidance on Enterovirus D68 from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention was distributed by the Maine DOE to all Maine school nurses on Friday, Oct. 3.

Each year, millions of people become ill due to respiratory illnesses. Some of the more common respiratory illnesses in schools may include influenza, pertussis and the common cold. The common cold can be caused by many viruses including enteroviruses, one strain of which (EV-D68) is responsible for several outbreaks in the United States in 2014, including one recent case here in Maine. Schools should be aware of these illnesses, how to prevent them and what is reportable. Continue reading

Longtime Skowhegan special educator Maine’s 2015 Teacher of the Year

In a surprise all-school assembly Thursday at Skowhegan Area Middle School, longtime MSAD 54 special educator Jennifer Dorman was named the 2015 Maine Teacher of the Year. She is the second special education teacher ever honored with Maine’s top award for educator excellence. Pictured here: Skowhegan Area Middle School Principal Zachary Longyear, Maine Department of Education Commissioner Jim Rier, 2015 Maine Teacher of the Year Jennifer Dorman and MSAD 54 Superintendent Brent Colbry.

Longtime MSAD 54 special educator Jennifer Dorman is the 2015 Maine Teacher of the Year, the second special education teacher ever to receive this honor. Pictured here: Skowhegan Area Middle School Principal Zachary Longyear, Maine Department of Education Commissioner Jim Rier, 2015 Maine Teacher of the Year Jennifer Dorman and MSAD 54 Superintendent Brent Colbry.

In a surprise all-school assembly today, Maine Education Commissioner Jim Rier announced Skowhegan Area Middle School’s Jennifer Dorman was selected from nearly 400 nominees as Maine’s top teacher

SKOWHEGAN – A 20-year veteran special educator in Somerset County schools committed to supporting her students succeed despite their challenges has been selected as the 2015 Teacher of the Year.

In a surprise assembly at MSAD 54’s Skowhegan Area Middle School (SAMS) on Thursday, Education Commissioner Jim Rier announced Jennifer Dorman had been chosen from a field of 376 nominees as Maine’s top teacher. Continue reading

All students, all standards but different demonstrations of proficiency

As Maine moves toward a proficiency-based education system that will ensure students graduate from our high schools having mastered State learning standards, I am often asked what this expectation means for our nearly 30,000 students with disabilities.

A free appropriate public education must include support to allow students with disabilities to achieve the same high standards as other students.

I – like all of my colleagues at the Department and so many of you – believe that Maine students with disabilities deserve to graduate knowing that they have the knowledge and skills needed for future success. And I am confident that they can, even if their path toward proficiency sometimes looks different than that of their classmates. After all, in the true learner-centered system envisioned in Maine’s Education Evolving strategic plan, all students are active participants in and directors of their own learning, taking a meaningful role in planning learning activities and being allowed to choose the manner by which they display proficiency, whether it be a final exam, paper, project or other demonstration.

Maine law states that a diploma may be awarded to a child with a disability if that child achieves proficiency in the same standards as required of other children “as specified by the goals and objectives of the child’s individualized education plan.” The Department has always interpreted that language to mean that an IEP team may modify the means by which a student with a disability demonstrates proficiency in the standards and reflect that on the student’s IEP but they may not modify the standards themselves, which are codified in Department rule.

The federal Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) and the U.S. Department of Education recently affirmed that, issuing a letter to the State of Louisiana in which they expressed significant concern about that state’s recently enacted law permitting IEP teams to change and lower the expectations for students with disabilities. The position set forth in their letter supports our Department’s own: to qualify for a diploma a student with disabilities must meet the same level of proficiency in the same standards as students without disabilities; however, the manner in which they demonstrate their eligibility for a diploma may differ.

Our Department means it when we say “all standards, all students.” And we are backing up that commitment by providing resources to support your local efforts including free coaching and tools.

For more information or technical assistance in supporting all students, please contact Maine DOE’s Director of Special Services Jan Breton at janice.breton@maine.gov or 624-6713. For more information about the proficiency-based diploma requirement and related resources, visit Getting to Proficiency: Graduating Every Student Prepared.