Category Archives: Continuous Learning

Superintendents surveyed on use of instructional coaches

The following Priority Notice requesting participation in a survey on the use of instructional coaches was distributed to all Maine superintendents on Wednesday, Oct. 8.

Dear Superintendents,

As you know, the Maine DOE is committed to ensuring that every learner has the opportunity to be successful. Part of that is ensuring our schools have the resources they need to best support all of their students, including those who are economically disadvantaged.   Continue reading

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.

Maine DOE welcomes new federal programs staff

Janette Kirk, David Fisk and Chelsey Fortin have joined Maine DOE as members of the No Child Left Behind Federal Programs Team.

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Portland principal wins $100,000 for school

Casco Bay High School Principal Derek Pierce has won the Nellie Mae Education Foundation’s 3rd Annual Larry O’Toole Award. He will receive a $100,000 grant for his school, which will be used to further student learning. The win marks the first time a Maine principal or school organization has won the award, for which there is one nominee from each New England state.

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Maine DOE offering free workshops for world languages educators

The Maine DOE’s World Languages in Maine: A Standards-Based Teaching and Assessment Initiative, now in its third year, will be again offering free regional workshops for world language teachers statewide during the 2014-15 school year.

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Maine DOE announces principals as instructional leaders workshops

As part of the Maine DOE’s ongoing efforts to develop and support school leaders, the Department is hosting a second series of workshops to support principals as instructional leaders. The sessions this fall, scheduled throughout the state (see full schedule below), will focus on effective teaching and learning in mathematics.

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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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Nominations for Senate Youth Program and Scholarship due Oct. 10

All Maine principals and headmasters are encouraged to nominate one student for the United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP). Two Maine students will be selected to receive a $5,000 scholarship and an all-expenses paid educational program in Washington, D.C. for a week in March.

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