Category Archives: Commissioner’s Updates

Commissioner’s Update – July 23, 2015

From the Maine Department of Education

The Standardized Assessment Task Force of 21 Maine educators are busy at work this summer as the state seeks a vendor/partner to carry out the Maine Educational Assessment for public school students in grades 3-8 and 11. In June, the task force met to discuss the successes and needed areas of improvement of the last assessment. Now the role of this group is to engage in a question and answer exchange that will act as a guide to help the Department draft a Request for Proposals (RFP). These proposals will be scored according to the RFP to determine which organization will serve as Maine’s next vendor.

In an effort to ensure that all of Maine’s K-12 public school students have “an equal opportunity to a quality education,” Maine DOE conducts an assessment each year of all public school students in certain grades. This assessment must be standardized so that each student is measured by the same instrument. By having every public school student in Maine take the same (or standardized) test, it is possible to measure the educational opportunity that a child in Kittery, for example, has in relation to a child in Fort Kent.

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State awards $1.63 million through a grant to help a struggling school

Washburn Elementary School in Auburn will use just over $1.63 million in School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding awarded by the Maine DOE.  | More

Maine educators expand learning technology skills this week

The Maine DOE’s MLTI 2015 Summer Institute kicks off at Bowdoin. | More

Celebrating 30 years of wellness

Teams representing 22 Maine school districts benefited in June from their experiences at the 30th Annual Maine Schoolsite Health Promotion Program & Wellness Conference. | More

Three Maine CTEs to offer plumbing programs

Career and Technical Education (CTE) centers in Farmington, Norway and Lewiston will begin offering new plumbing programs. | More

Free school-based emergency course for rural districts and law enforcement

A free course on school-based emergencies for rural Maine districts and law enforcement will be offered on Aug. 20 in Belfast. | More

Maine Warden Service and Maine DOE working to assess applicant’s skills

The Maine DOE and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife are working cooperatively to assess an applicant’s readiness, according to State learning standards. | More

Notice of annual audit requirements

Maine DOE is providing notice of a change to requirements as well as reminders about the annual audit requirements for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015, and subsequent years. | More

Maine DOE revises policy on standards-based IEP goals

The Maine DOE has revised its policy on writing standards-based IEP goals, available here. | More

QZAB Tax Credit Bond applications due October 15

The Department currently has $1,435,000 of QZAB issuing authority to distribute to qualifying schools units. | More

Maine DOE adopts rules to establish new test requirements for qualifying examinations of Teachers, Educational Specialists and Administrators

Rule Chapter 13: Qualifying Examinations of Teachers, Educational Specialists and Administrators has been formally adopted by the Department and took effect June 23. | More

MaineCare Seed payment adjustments made, report review by August 21

The 2015-16 subsidy checks for General Purpose Aid for local schools will reflect adjustments for MaineCare Seed payments. | More

Upcoming proficiency-based education conference in Dexter

Limited space is available for MooseCamp, a proficiency-themed conference in Dexter on Aug. 12. | More

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Commissioner’s Update – July 9, 2015

From the Maine Department of Education

In case you missed the 104th Annual Commissioner’s Conference, here is a recap with valuable links.

Acting Commissioner of Education, Thomas Desjardin opened and closed the conference at Sunday River with timely updates on the ongoing FY16 budget discussions and voting at the State House at the time. He also acknowledged the ever changing educational climate and the hard work and successes of school leaders and Maine DOE’s support through its multi-faceted services.

The conference kicked off recognizing school leaders with 17 awards presented. Acting Commissioner Tom Desjardin, along with representatives of the Maine School Superintendents Association, recognized school leaders for their service, outstanding leadership and longevity. The 2015 Distinguished Service Award recipient was former Commissioner James Rier.

Then two days of presentations offered hands on training as well as collaborative learning. The full conference agenda and materials can be found here.

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Updates on Smarter Balanced and results

Legislative enactment of LD 1276 An Act to Improve Educational Assessments of Maine Students was approved by Governor LePage on June 16. | More

Rule adoption: Chapter 101 Birth to age 20

A new rule adoption, Chapter 101: Maine Unified Special Education Regulation Birth to Age 20, goes into effect on July 19. | More

Funding available for school renovations

The Maine DOE will accept applications for funding of school renovation projects through the School Revolving Renovation Fund. | More

Summer health review needed

The Maine DOE reminds district administrators that health care plans developed for students who require services during the year must be reviewed. | More

Safety top focus at school transportation conference

School transportation directors, supervisors, mechanics, bus drivers, and computer technicians from all over Maine will be traveling to Sugarloaf Mountain. | More

At the intersection of CTE and academics

Strengthening the connection between Career and Technical Education (CTE) and secondary academics was on the agenda recently. | More

NEO account management

With the 2015-16 school year upon us, we realize that occasionally staff moves positions from one school administrative unit (SAU) to another. | More

Maine FFA student state officers attend national leadership conference

Student officers of the Maine FFA Association recently attended the National Leadership Conference for State Officers (NLCSO). | More

School Nurses aim to improve the health of our kids

Eight school nurses from Maine were among the more than 1,300 school nurses from around the country that met in Philadelphia last month. | More

Summer training available for teachers

The New England Institute for Teacher Education is offering a number of professional development opportunities for Maine educators this summer. | More

Presidential recognition

Two Maine teachers are recipients of the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. | More

Curriculum Leader of the Year

Assistant Superintendent of RSU 3, Deb McIntyre, has been named Maine’s 2015 Curriculum Leader of the Year. | More

High school students have a challenge-pass it along

Tyler Technologies, Inc. has launched a first application development challenge solely for high school students in the state. | More

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Commissioner’s Update – June 25, 2015

From the Maine Department of Education

A young girl at the summer food meal site

The Summer Food Services Program kicked off in Bangor and Portland on June 19 and is in full swing throughout the state this month. In Bangor, five sites are open keeping students nourished through a cooperative effort of the Good Shepherd Food Bank, Bangor School District, Bangor Housing Authority, USDA, and Maine DOE’s Child Nutrition Services.

Under Maine law, a school administrative unit must offer meals if it has 50 percent or more of its students qualifying for free and reduced school meals, but many sites, like in Bangor, are also offering more than a meal. The kick off included a bounce house and a garden where students learn about seeds and plant growth. The Bangor Boys & Girls Club, who works closely with Bangor Housing Authority, also joined in along with Senator Susan Collins and the media in promoting the program.

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There is a lot that is “New” in the Certification Office

The Maine DOE Certification Office announces new resources, in-person hours, policy for processing in-person applications and more. | More

On the road with a message about food

Child Nutrition Programs of the Maine DOE has a new ride and it’s the first in the Northeast. | More

Schoolwide Plan due July 1, Department continues to provide additional support

The Maine DOE continues to provide guidance to Title I schools as they complete their Annual Schoolwide Plan Review, due July 1. | More

One-on-one support for new NCLB coordinators

The Maine DOE is offering face-to-face training in July to provide guidance to new NCLB Coordinators. | More

Totally Trades!

This year marked the 12th anniversary of Maine Centers for Women, Work and Community’s free day-long conference, Totally Trades. | More

Tentative IDEA Part B Local Entitlement allocations available

The tentative Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B Local Entitlement allocations for FY16 funds are available. | More

Office of Special Services updates forms

The Maine DOE Office of Special Services has completed revisions of forms and are available on the website. | More

SAUs agree on pathways for students in special purpose private schools

Students who are placed by their school administrative unit in a special purpose private school must be assured of a pathway to graduation from that SAU. | More

Competitive Skills Scholarship Program now accepting applications

The Competitive Skills Scholarship Program, designed to help Maine residents learn new skills and succeed in a changing economy, is currently accepting applications. | More

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Commissioner’s Update – June 18, 2015

From the Maine Department of Education

The Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) invites educators to attend its 2015 Summer Institute scheduled July 21-23 at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. This is an opportunity you do not want to miss as you learn new techniques and strategies that will help address proficiency-based learning, teacher accountability and higher order thinking skills.

The annual professional development opportunity will be headlined by keynote speakers Chris Lehmann of Philadelphia’s Science Leadership Academy and Erin Knight from Cities of Learning and Badge Alliance. At the event, educators will share ideas for learning through technology and have the time to examine and try out new ideas in-depth with the support of experts. Among the topics of focus will be iPad workflows, online and blended learning, building digital content, programming with Swift, leadership for technology, and more.

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Maine DOE honors finalists for excellence in mathematics and science teaching

Maine DOE recently honored two state finalists for the 2014 Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics and Science (PAEMST) with a dinner held at the Maple Hill Farm Inn in Hallowell. | More

Maine FFA student officers gain leadership skills

This year, three student State FFA Officers and three student Chapter FFA Officers attended the “Blast Off!” training on May 29-31 at the USDA Service Center in Presque Isle. | More

Department announces upcoming Diploma Institute aimed at dropout prevention

The Maine DOE in collaboration with Clemson University’s National Dropout Prevention Network will hold a two-day Diploma Institute for selected schools. | More

Public preschool applications for 2015-16 school year due June 30

Public preschool applications for the 2015-16 school year are due to the Department’s Early Childhood Consultant Sue Reed no later than June 30. | More

Say goodbye to MEDMS Staff Collection and hello to NEO Staff; training is next

The Department recently made the decision to replace the staff collection piece of MEDMS with a new application called NEO Staff. | More

Maine DOE announces school transportation software that’s going places

A new and important release of Transfinder school transportation software is scheduled for June 20. | More

Office of Special Services offers guidance on WISC-V

The Maine DOE Office of Special Services has received questions about the three subtest requirements for a specific learning disability identification in Chapter 101 (Maine Unified Special Education Regulations or MUSER). | More

FAME announces Claim Your Future® available to all Maine middle schools

The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) recently announced their popular game, Claim Your Future® (formerly known as Get a Life), is now available to all Maine middle schools free of charge. | More

Students honored by Maine Humanities Council

The Maine Humanities Council  announced the winners of the 2015 Letters About Literature contest. | More

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Commissioner’s Update – June 11, 2015

From the Maine Department of Education

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.

In an effort to minimize the amount of time that such a submittal might entail for districts, the Department has developed a relatively short survey, which will serve as the mechanism for submitting pilot plans. The Department expects 100% of SAUs to respond to the survey by July 15, even if not all are fully ready to pilot. The data we collect will in fact help the Department to determine which districts are in need of targeted supports.

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2016 Maine Teacher of the Year semi-finalists announced

The Maine DOE, in partnership with Educate Maine, recently named eight teachers as semi-finalists for Maine’s 2016 Teacher of the Year. | More

Maine DOE’s Literacy for ME launches summer reading resources

The Department’s Literacy for ME initiative has launched a webpage to provide families with resources to support summer reading and other activities that enhance typical summer experiences and prevent the summer slide. | More

Special services eligibility guidance for English learners

The Maine DOE recognizes that, due to their limited English language proficiency, determining eligibility for special education services for English learners (ELs) may be challenging. | More

Department to host writing IEPs workshops this fall

The Maine DOE will be offering an evidence-based practice IEP Goal Writing for College, Career and Community Readiness workshop in October 2015. | More

Maine DOE offers facilities conference for school staff

The Maine DOE and the Educational Plant Maintenance Association of Maine invite superintendents, facilities directors, business managers, maintenance teams and custodial staff to the 47th Annual School Facilities Conference. | More

Special services year-end reports now available

The following applications and year-end reports for the Maine DOE Office of Special Services are now available on the Department’s Reporting Calendar. | More

Office of Child Nutrition provides clarification on half-day school lunch

Due to recent questions regarding offering school lunch on half days, the Maine DOE’s Office of Child Nutrition is clarifying the National School Lunch Program Agreement to Participate. | More

Letter from USDA to districts regarding summer meals

We need your leadership and assistance to let every family whose children and teenagers need meals this summer know how to find a summer meals site in their community. | More

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Commissioner’s Update – June 4, 2015

From the Maine Department of Education

Maine’s top Career & Technical Education students were honored as students of the year recently at a ceremony at the Lewiston Regional Technical Center.

It was a great night to celebrate the best CTE students in Maine. Twenty six centers were represented. State School Board Chair, Peter Geiger, indicated that it was the best celebration for students he has seen. Senator Brian Langley, Education Committee Chair, was also impressed and gave the audience a superb presentation with his remarks aligned to CTE in Maine.

Each of the 26 students was presented with an award certificate and two received scholarships in the amount of $1,000 each at the event sponsored by the Maine Administrators of Career & Technical Education (MACTE).

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FFA students celebrate accomplishments at 85th annual state convention

Secondary and middle school students in the Maine FFA Association (formerly known as “Future Farmers of America”) celebrated numerous accomplishments during the annual state convention held on May 14-15 at the University of Maine. | More

Data training sessions announced

There are many changes coming in the 2015-16 school year. In order that accurate student and staff data is reported to the Maine DOE, it is important that the appropriate staff attend one (or more) of these training sessions. | More

Learning Disability Report (LDR) form guidance

In a letter dated February 23, 2015, the United States Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services directed the Maine DOE to issue guidance clarifying the use of the Learning Disability Report (LDR) form. | More

Office of Special Services notice of changes in special education forms

The Maine DOE Office of Special Services has revised the forms listed below. Revised forms are to be used effective August 1, 2015. | More

Maine DOE provides assistance for Civil Rights Data Collection to districts

The Maine DOE is offering some assistance to local districts who are working to comply with the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection. | More

Fact sheet highlights academic performance and student health risk

A newly available one-page fact sheet on the relationship between Academic Performance and Student Health Risks is available. | More

School and workplace violence training Aug 19-20

The National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) and the Brewer Police Department will host a two-day training event on school and workplace violence on Aug 19-20 in Brewer. | More

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Commissioner’s Update – May 21, 2015

From the Maine Department of Education

On Monday May 18 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.

Both attorneys advised the committee that parents and students have a right to not take the standardized statewide assessment. No one is going to force a child to sit and take the test. They do not, however, have a right to be shielded from the consequences of that act which could range from action by the school district or loss of federal funding for the school. Local school districts in Maine have the authority under state law to place requirements on students and not award a diploma if the student does not meet these requirements. This could include things such as community service, a senior year graduation exam, or participation in statewide or local assessments.

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Annual MLTI student technology conference brings 1000+ to UMaine Thursday

Over 1,000 students and educators will bring their Maine Department of Education provided digital devices to UMaine on Thursday for a one-day conference. | More

Maine DOE announces teacher leadership summit

The Maine DOE is promoting the Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers (ECET2) summit at Colby College in Waterville on August 6-7. | More

Hiring standards for school nutrition program directors take effect July 1

Beginning July 1 school nutrition program directors will be required to meet new hiring standards as a result of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recent ruling establishing national professional standards for all school nutrition employees. | More

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Maine DOE announces teacher leadership summit

The Maine DOE is promoting the Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers (ECET2) summit at Colby College in Waterville on August 6-7.

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Commissioner’s Update – May 14, 2015

From the Maine Department of Education

LD 131 “An Act To Amend the Laws Related to Public Funding of Charter Schools” was signed May 8, 2015 by Governor LePage. Under the new law  Maine DOE will make monthly payments directly to approved public charter schools starting in FY16, the same way the Department has long distributed funds to traditional public school districts.

Currently, districts that lose students to public charter schools are billed directly by the receiving charter school. The Maine DOE will provide financial relief to traditional school units since they no longer must include these payments in their annual budgets.

The new funding method will relieve the unpredictable financial impact of charters to individual (sending) districts and was overwhelmingly supported by leaders of Maine’s school districts, including the 100 or so that now have at least one student enrolled in one of the state’s five bricks-and-mortar charter schools or the virtual Maine Connections Academy. The change also allows Maine to move beyond the divisive debate about charter school funding and refocus on how to create opportunities for students to be most successful at Maine public schools, whether they be charters or traditional.

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First Lady LePage, Acting Education Commissioner announce 2015 County Teachers of the Year

First Lady Ann LePage and Acting Education Commissioner Tom Desjardin marked Teacher Appreciation Week by announcing the top teacher from each Maine county. | More

Maine Department of Education pledges additional funding to support autism resource, research institute

The Maine Department of Education is committing over $150,000 to continue the work of the state’s first autism institute. | More

Department seeks feedback on ESEA waiver renewal

The Maine DOE is seeking feedback on Maine’s proposed Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Waiver Renewal application. | More

Alternate assessment for math, ELA closing May 15

The deadline to submit the National Center and State Collaborative Alternate Assessment (NCSC), used to assess students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in mathematics and English language arts is this Friday, May 15. | More

Maine DOE joins library advocates in Washington, D.C. for National Library Legislative Day

Last week the Maine DOE was represented along with hundreds of library supporters in Washington, D.C. to speak with their legislators about the importance of libraries. | More

Notice to 30th annual school wellness conference applicants; due date extended to May 29

If your school submitted an application for the 30th Annual Maine Schoolsite Health Promotion Program “Wellness” Conference to the Maine DOE but has not yet received a confirmation please contact the Department. | More

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Commissioner’s Update – May 7, 2015

From the Maine Department of Education

The Maine DOE  will continue school site visits into June to provide targeted technical assistance for proficiency-based extension options five and six.

Visits to schools that were granted an extension five or six  are providing valuable information about the types of supports needed by districts to sustain the transition to proficiency-based education and reflects the deep commitment of districts to student-centered learning.

The Maine DOE will release information about the 2015 renewal process for extensions soon. Last year’s extension applications provided a clear picture of the status of districts implementation of proficiency-based education to date. District extension applications can be viewed on the Maine DOE website. The Maine DOE anticipates a dramatically streamlined renewal process for spring 2015.

The Maine DOE plans to convene extension option six schools as a group in June to provide targeted supports for the implementation of proficiency-based diplomas. This convening is in lieu of a second site visit. More information about this event will be sent to districts in the coming weeks.

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Nominations open for MAHPERD Teachers of the Year

Nominations are open for the Maine Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (MAHPERD) Teachers of the Year awards. | More

New technology awards announced, nominations open through June 1

The Association for Computer Technology Educators of Maine (ACTEM) announced their REBOOTED and REIMAGINED awards, open to innovative educators at all grade levels that have a direct impact on student learning. | More

Schoolwide program funding involving local entitlement funds

Schools that have been granted schoolwide program status under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) are required to submit a budget showing funding sources for their activities. | More

Special services invoicing procedure for state agency clients

Under MUSER §IV.4.E(3), the Maine DOE is responsible for the costs of special education services provided to state agency clients and pays those costs directly to the providing agency or person. | More

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