Category Archives: Instruction

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 with more than 100 participants from across the state at a recent seminar hosted by legal firm Drummond Woodsum in partnership with the Maine School Management Association.

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Schools encouraged to prepare for Alcohol Awareness Day

Note: This is a joint letter from Commissioner of Education Jim Rier and Guy Cousins, director of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services in the Department of Health and Human Services.

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Celebrating Maine’s 2015 Teacher of the Year

Last week I had the honor of announcing Jennifer Dorman as the 2015 Maine Teacher of the Year.

Mrs. Dorman, who dreamed of being a teacher since her very first day of Kindergarten, has been a special educator in Somerset County schools for two decades, most recently at Skowhegan Area Middle School (SAMS) where she is a seventh-and eighth-grade special education and reading intervention teacher.

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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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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 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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Maine DOE provides guidance on world language proficiency

The Maine DOE has recently published guidance on what constitutes proficiency in a world language and recommendations for assessing proficiency for graduation reporting standards on the world languages section of its website.

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Maine DOE releases social studies webinar highlighting inquiry-based resources

The Maine DOE has created a free webinar to help educators better understand where Maine students are when it comes to developing evidence-based arguments and how to support them in improving those skills. The webinar is the latest in a series of school improvement webinars developed by the Department to support Maine schools based on needs identified from statewide student performance data.

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