Category Archives: From the Commissioner

Deadline is nearing to report proficiency-based implementation progress

The following priority notice was sent today to district administrators as a reminder to complete the 2014-15 proficiency-based learning implementation survey.

The month-long window for completing the 2014-2015 Progress Report: Implementing Proficiency-Based Learning and Proficiency-Based Diplomas is closing on August 27. This 38 question survey released on July 27 provides Maine districts a way to report vital data to the Maine DOE regarding the progress made from July 1, 2014 to July 31, 2015. Many districts say the survey has served as a reflective tool as they set goals and metrics to measure progress.

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Reminder to districts: Suicide awareness and prevention training

The following priority notice was sent today to superintendents as a reminder all school personnel must complete suicide awareness and prevention training by the start of the 2015-16 school year.

Dear Superintendents,

Ensuring the safety of our students is a priority and a shared responsibility. Suicide awareness and prevention efforts are a part of safeguarding schools. To increase the potential of recognizing a student (or colleague) is in need of assistance, Maine passed the school-based suicide awareness and prevention law (LD 609, PL 53, DOE Rule Chapter 38) in April 2013.

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Additional State subsidy

The following Priority Notice was sent to superintendents and business managers on Thursday, July 30.

Dear Superintendents and Business Managers,

With the recent passage of the biennial budget, many school districts in Maine saw an increase in the amount of subsidy that they will receive from the State. We thought this would be a good time to explain some of the laws regarding how these additional funds can be used.

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Message to districts: Updated ED 279s posted for FY 2016

The following Priority Notice was distributed to school superintendents and business managers today regarding updated FY 2016 ED 279s:

Dear Superintendents and Business Managers,

The Department is pleased to let you know that we have just posted updated FY 2016 (2015-16 school year) State subsidy printouts, known as ED 279s, here on our website.

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Materials released in advance of Commissioner’s Conference

The following Priority Notice was distributed to school superintendents today in advance of the 104th Annual Commissioner’s Conference for Superintendents:

Dear Superintendents,

We look forward to working with you next week during the 104th Annual Commissioner’s Conference for Superintendents, scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 28 at Sunday River’s Jordan Hotel in Newry.

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Maine DOE supports SAUs in reporting PEPG pilot plan with brief survey

The following Priority Notice was sent on Monday, June 8.

As part of the implementation of Performance Evaluation and Professional Growth (PEPG) systems, Rule Chapter 180 and Maine Revised Statute Title 20-A, Chapter 508 require that School Administrative Units (SAUs) test-run or pilot their PEPG systems for principals and teachers during the 2015-16 school year. In order to ensure that districts are on track for a pilot next year, the law requires each SAU to submit a “plan describing the intentions of its pilot project” by July 15.

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Committee votes to increase subsidy; cuts elsewhere

The following Priority Notice from Maine DOE Acting Commissioner Tom Desjardin was sent to schools on Tuesday, June 2.

Dear Educators,

In the midst of budget discussions in the legislature a lot of information and numbers are flying around and knowing you are in the midst of making your own local budgets, I wanted to give you this update which is current as of Tuesday, June 2 at noon.

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Smarter Balanced bill passes committee

The following Priority Notice from Maine DOE Acting Commissioner Tom Desjardin was sent to schools on Thursday, May 21.

Dear Educators,

On Monday (5/18/15) the legislature’s Joint Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs held a work session on LD 1276 “An Act To Improve Educational Assessments of Maine Students.” This bill required that the Department of Education withdraw from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and not engage with SBAC on any future statewide assessments.

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Notice regarding “opting-out” of statewide assessments

The following Priority Notice from Maine DOE Acting Commissioner Tom Desjardin was sent to schools on Wednesday, May 20.

Dear Educators,

On Monday (5/18/15) the legislature’s Joint Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs held a work session on LD 695 “An Act To Empower Parents in the Education of Their Children by Allowing an Opt-out from Standardized Assessments.” The end result was that 11 of the 13 committee members voted not to force local school districts to inform parents of their right to opt-out of statewide assessment. Two of the eleven voted to pass a version of the bill without that requirement. The bill now goes to the Maine House and Senate.

Discussion of the bill included a lot of information regarding the legal aspects of this potential action. This included legal opinions from attorneys with both the Office of the Maine Attorney General and the legislature’s Office of Policy and Legal Analysis.

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Opening day of new statewide online assessment a success

The following Priority Notice from Maine DOE Acting Commissioner Tom Desjardin was sent to Maine schools on Tuesday, March 17, announcing that the first day of the new statewide assessment had been a success and outlining Department support for schools throughout the March 16-May 29 testing window.

Dear Educators,

Yesterday, thousands of Maine students began the Maine Educational Assessment (MEA) for Mathematics and English Language Arts/Literacy developed by Smarter Balanced. More than a decade after we began putting technology in the hands of Maine students and teachers to support their 21st century learning and teaching, our state is finally using this familiar environment to assess what students know and are able to do.

From what you’ve told us, the first day of online testing was a success. In the words of one district: “So far. So good.” Schools reported no major problems and expressed appreciation that our Department’s staff had quick answers to any questions asked.  Continue reading