Category Archives: School Improvement

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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Maine high school graduation rates continue to climb

The State Department of Education is encouraged by the increase, but says a wide graduation-proficiency gap and high college remediation rates show Maine schools must prioritize proficiency

AUGUSTA – Maine’s high school graduation rate continues to climb with 86.36 percent of all students who entered the ninth grade in the fall of 2009 earning their diplomas on time in 2013, but State education officials stress that proficiency must be the top priority.

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Maine DOE prepares to release school report cards, outlines changes

In an effort to expand the snapshot of a school the report card provides, the Department will add information about student poverty, teacher tenure and education levels, and funding

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Education has begun creating the 2014 school report cards that will be published in May.

For the second straight year, the Department will use existing school performance and progress data to provide the public a snapshot of how the state’s 600 schools are doing.

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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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Maine DOE releases elementary student assessment results

AUGUSTA – The majority of Maine’s elementary school students are still proficient in reading and math, but State Education Department officials say performance declines in all grade levels tested are a reminder of the importance of school-led improvement work continuing.

The performance of students in grades three through eight, as measured by the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) administered in October, comes just months after the Department announced proficiency in math and reading was on the rise again in Maine high schools, according to scores from the 2013 SAT. Continue reading

Maine schools collaborate to support proficiency-based diploma implementation

All across Maine, educators are recognizing that the shift to proficiency-based diplomas by 2018 is complex and adaptive in nature. Continue reading

Schools to represent Maine at regional conference on educational innovation

PORTLAND – Three Maine schools and one Maine school district—Ellsworth High School, Troy Howard Middle School (Belfast), Westbrook High School and Regional School Unit 2 (Hallowell)—have been invited to represent their state at a regional conference on effective strategies for improving teaching and learning in the 21st century. Continue reading

Priority schools invited to apply for $1.7 million SIG

For the fifth straight year, the Maine DOE has been awarded money from the U.S. Department of Education Title I School Improvement Grants (SIG) program to turn around our state’s persistently lowest-achieving schools. Continue reading