Category Archives: School Improvement

Commissioner’s Update – March 19, 2015

From Acting Education Commissioner Tom Desjardin

This week, 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 week of online testing has been 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. 

I’m glad things are getting off to such a good start because I believe in the incredible potential of this new online assessment and I know how hard so many of you are working to see that potential fully realized. On behalf of Maine students, thank you.

Unlike the bubble tests of the past, this new assessment measures higher-order thinking and how students actually apply the skills they should be learning and need for 21 century college and career success. Its adaptive abilities – meaning questions and their difficulty are adjusted based on a participant’s previous answers  –  helps teachers better help their students by more accurately pinpointing individual student strengths and weaknesses. Results, available in weeks rather than months, more quickly inform instruction and interventions. Universal tools, accommodations and designated supports like the ability to highlight or have the text read aloud, are available thanks to the online delivery. These integrated features alleviate test-taking anxiety and better support the unique needs of each student, especially those with disabilities. And the lengthened 11-week test window gives schools more administration flexibility and creates less stress for students, even though the assessment actually requires significantly fewer hours to administer than the NECAP.

That said, the administration of this new assessment won’t be perfect.

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Notices and Reporting

More Notices | Administrative Letters | Reporting Calendar


News & Views

Maine DOE overviews updated educator evaluation expectations

Maine’s educator evaluation expectations have changed as a result of legislative action initiated by the Department to ensure the state could maintain flexibility from burdensome federal requirements. A summary of changes to Title 20-A and Rule Chapter 180 as a result of the enactment of LD 692 and the expected enactment of LD 38, are outlined here. | More

Department provides resources in advance of science assessment opening on May 4

The Maine DOE is sharing resources with schools to support their preparations for the annual statewide science assessment, which will run May 4-22. | More

Maine schools selected for personalized learning initiative

Twenty New England public schools in the League of Innovative Schools including five from Maine have been selected by the New England Secondary School Consortium and the Great Schools Partnership to participate in a new initiative. | More

Maine DOE offers resources for increasing rigor in science education

Science researchers and educators from Maine and across the country convened in Chicago last week to share tools and discuss policy to support effective science instruction. | More

Department provides support to ESEA monitor schools through webinar

The Maine DOE has posted a new webinar intended to provide support and guidance to Maine districts with schools recently given “monitor” status under the state’s federally required accountability system. | More

Regional meetings scheduled on improving school attendance

Promoting school attendance is the agenda for two regional meetings this month sponsored by Count ME In. | More

Maine Department of Labor offers technical assistance to support youth employment

The Maine Department of Labor (DOL) is offering increased assistance around youth employment. | More

More Dispatches | Press Releases | From the Commissioner


LATEST DOE Career/Project Opportunities

Maine DOE overviews updated educator effectiveness expectations

Maine’s educator evaluation expectations have changed as a result of legislative action initiated by the Department to ensure the state could maintain flexibility from burdensome federal requirements. Continue reading

Maine DOE offers resources for increasing rigor in science education

Science researchers and educators from Maine and across the country convened in Chicago last week to share tools and discuss policy to support effective science instruction.

Continue reading

Maine schools selected for personalized learning initiative

Twenty New England public schools in the League of Innovative Schools including five from Maine have been selected by the New England Secondary School Consortium and the Great Schools Partnership to participate in a new initiative that will help them develop personalized learning experiences that address the distinct learning needs, interests and aspirations of individual students. The initiative’s goal is to help the schools remodel their academic programs to ensure that every graduate is prepared to succeed in postsecondary education, modern workplaces and adult life.

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Department provides support to ESEA monitor schools through webinar

The Maine DOE has posted a new webinar intended to provide support and guidance to Maine districts with schools recently given “monitor” status under the state’s federally required accountability system.

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Maine DOE invites schools to Maine Emergency Preparedness Conference

The Department is encouraging Maine schools to attend the free 2015 Maine Partners in Emergency Preparedness Conference next month in Augusta.

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Maine DOE to apply for School Improvement Grant funding, seeks public comment on waiver

The Maine DOE will again apply for federal School Improvement Grant funding that the Department would distribute to help the state’s most struggling schools close achievement gaps.

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Department continues to seek feedback on ESEA waiver in advance of renewal

In preparation for Maine’s application for a renewal of its existing ESEA waiver, the Department continues to seek feedback on how the State’s current accountability and improvement system is serving Maine’s students and schools.

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Professional standards released for food service staff

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released a final rule establishing national professional standards for all school nutrition employees who manage and operate the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.

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Maine DOE reminds educators of MEA administration resources, new trainings

The following Priority Notice was sent to District/System Administrators, School Test Coordinators and Technology Directors on March 2 to highlight resources from the Maine DOE to support the successful administration of the upcoming State assessment, as well as announce upcoming regional technical assistance sessions.

Dear District/System Administrators, School Test Coordinators and Technology Directors,

With the window for giving the new online Maine Educational Assessment (MEA) for Mathematics and English Language Arts/Literacy developed by Smarter Balanced opening in just two weeks, we want to make sure you have the resources you need to feel prepared for a successful test administration.

On our assessment website, you can find an extensive library of administration materials. With so many supports available, we wanted to draw your attention to a few including: Continue reading