Category Archives: From the Commissioner

Simple strategies for safer, more effective schools

Next week, I have the honor of speaking about school security at the Maine Partners in Emergency Preparedness Conference. I am excited to share all the advancements we’ve made here in recent years to strengthen the safety and security of our schools, especially since the shootings at Sandy Hook.

Most notably, thanks to two security reports commissioned by the Legislature and our Department and produced by Safe Havens International and PDT Architects, Maine schools now better understand their vulnerabilities and opportunities to better ensure student and staff safety.

Knowing how important this work is can often make it daunting for districts and schools boards to figure out where to best begin. That’s why as a follow-up to those assessments and in partnership with Safe Havens International, we are pleased to provide a free school security guide entitled 20 Simple Strategies to Safer and More Effective Schools.

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Committed to rigorous standards, aligned assessments

Last week, the Maine Education Association (MEA) announced its reservations about the updated math and ELA standards that were incorporated into the Maine Learning Results back in 2011 and have been being implemented in Maine schools since. They also called for a moratorium on the next generation of assessments aligned to those standards, developed in collaboration with Maine teachers and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, of which Maine is currently a governing member.

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Learning from the latest NECAP results: Part II

In last week’s Commissioner’s Update, I shared with you an analysis of the statewide math and reading results for the 2013-14 New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP), administered this past October.

With the exception of Grade 5 math and writing, we saw flat or declining scores in all other grades and content areas. Digging into the data shows us where strengths and struggles are, and focuses improvement initiatives.

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Notice to superintendents, principals on school grades

Dear Superintendents and Principals,

Next month, our Department will release the second round of school report cards, using existing data to provide the public a snapshot of how all Maine schools are doing.

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Notice to superintendents on 2014 Commissioner’s Conference

Dear Superintendents,

I wanted to personally invite you to save the date for our 103rd Annual Commissioner’s Conference for Superintendents, scheduled to run from noon on Monday, June 23 through noon on Wednesday, June 25 at Point Lookout in Northport (please note the Monday start).

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Learning from the latest NECAP results: Part I

Earlier this week, the Department released the state-level results for the 2013-14 New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP). The test was administered back in October and districts have had (and hopefully been closely analyzing) their individual results since January.

From the state-level data, we can see that while the majority of Maine’s elementary school students are still proficient in math (60.2 percent) and reading (69.1 percent), there are concerning performance declines across the board. While proficiency went up in Grade 5 math and writing and was flat in Grade 3, 5 and 7 reading as well as Grade 7 math, it was down in both math and reading for Grades 3, 4, 6 and 8.

Just as we as a Department encourage you to dig into your data to inform your understanding of challenges and opportunities, we’ve been doing the same here.

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Reminder regional calendars due May 1

Dear CTE Directors and Superintendents,

We are writing to remind you that school administrative units and private schools approved for tuition purposes are expected to establish regional school calendars, in coordination with their local secondary career and technical education school, by May 1.

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Innovative Bridge Year ensures college, career readiness

Yesterday, Governor LePage and I announced the 12 Career and Technical Education (CTE) Centers who will share in $500,000 granted by the Department to support the expansion of the innovative Bridge Year Program.

This funding will allow as many as 225 students to earn approximately two semesters of college credit before they even graduate from high school and develop technical and life skills for success in college, careers and civic life. More importantly, this program reflects an unprecedented collaboration between high schools, CTE centers, higher education and the workforce that will certainly change the lives of these students and the future of our state.  

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Maine DOE recognizes reward schools

Last summer, the Department received approval for an accountability waiver under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). This waiver provides flexibility in meeting federal accountability requirements by allowing Maine to implement its own tiered statewide system of support.

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Preliminary ED 279s coming this month

The Department is very close to completing the creation of the preliminary State subsidy printouts, known as ED 279s. As soon as those are finalized, we will post them on our website and immediately alert superintendents and business managers via a priority notice.

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