Category Archives: English Language Arts

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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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.

Smarter Balanced Digital Library surpasses 2K item mark, workshops offered

The Maine DOE is pleased to announce the Smarter Balanced Digital Library, a collection of vetted instructional, assessment and professional development resources, currently contains more than 2,000 resources, including each grade level, K-12, in the content areas of mathematics and English language arts.

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Maine high schools invited to register for Poetry Out Loud competition

Maine high schools are invited to register for Poetry Out Loud, a nationwide program that encourages youth to learn about poetry through memorization and recitation while helping students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage.

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Nominations open for state’s top financial literacy educator

The Maine Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy is seeking nominations for the Maine Jump$tart Coalition Educator of the Year Award.

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Maine’s Teacher of the Year asks for votes

The Department is encouraging Mainers to vote for Karen MacDonald, the current Maine Teacher of the Year, in her quest to win a $2,500 grant to extend learning opportunities to struggling students in Portland.

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Panel convened by Education Commissioner to improve Maine learning results, public input sought

Recommendations will inform improvements the Maine Department of Education intends for the state’s math and English language arts standards

AUGUSTA – Maine’s Education Commissioner is asking the public and a panel of parents, educators and business leaders to inform improvements his Department plans to make to the state’s learning standards for mathematics and English language arts.

Maine Department of Education Commissioner Jim Rier announced today that a 24-member panel will begin work this week to assess the rigor and clarity of the standards. Continue reading

Department provides answers to proficiency FAQs

As the Class of 2018 enters its first year of secondary school, school leaders are thinking deeply and asking questions about what it means to award a proficiency-based diploma after Jan. 1, 2018. In 2012, Maine enacted landmark legislation making high school graduation starting in 2018 dependent upon the following four requirements:

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Resources available to support transition to computerized English language proficiency assessment

In 2015-2016, ACCESS for ELLs 2.0, a computerized assessment, will replace the current paper-based version of ACCESS for ELLs for Grades 1-12. The paper-based assessment will continue to be available as an accommodation and for districts that do not have the technology to administer the assessment online. Kindergarten is not included in the changes and will remain an interactive, paper-based kit for the near future.

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