Grant to help Maine schools develop teacher, leader evaluation systems

AUGUSTA – Seventeen Maine schools will share a nearly $25 million grant to build systems that recognize and reward great teachers and school leaders. The federal grant will be used to improve educator evaluation systems, reward effective teachers and principals, and provide greater professional opportunities.

The 17 schools are in six districts: RSU 16 (Poland area); RSU 19 (Newport); Millinocket; Bangor; MSAD 11 (Gardiner); and RSU 86 (Fort Fairfield).

“Both administrators and teachers want the same thing – fair and realistic measures for performance, professional development and help in improving teaching skills, and a system that rewards excellent teachers,” said Gov. Paul LePage. “This will allow more districts to engage in this work and more importantly, help them develop models that other Maine school districts can adopt or adapt for their needs.”

Already 18 schools in five school districts across Maine are doing similar work through the Maine Schools for Excellence program, which is funded through an earlier Teacher Incentive Fund grant. Teachers and administrators work together in those districts to develop evaluation instruments for their staff members that will take students’ academic growth and achievement into account and offer teachers a constant stream of feedback about their practice from peers, supervisors, students and parents.

Maine is one two states and 33 school systems or non-profits to be approved for this new round of TIF grants, out of more than 120 applicants.

The work is closely aligned to the requirements of Governor LePage’s educator effectiveness bill, LD 1858, An Act To Ensure Effective Teaching and School Leadership, which passed in April 2012, and which requires school districts to develop or adopt high quality teacher and leader evaluation systems. These systems are to based on clear standards, incorporate multiple measures of effectiveness, including student achievement and growth, and are to be used to provide feedback for professional development.

“Systemic changes to standards, curricula, instructional practices and assessment will achieve little if efforts are not made to ensure that every learner has access to highly effective teachers and school leaders,” said Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen. “Indeed, as the governor has said repeatedly, no other school-based factor is more important to learner outcomes than the effectiveness of teachers and school leaders. That’s why this work is so important, and why it’s so important that we get it right.”

Participating districts will build performance pay compensation models utilizing the frameworks implemented under the existing Maine Schools for Excellence program.  However, districts will have some flexibility in terms of specific incentive amounts and criteria for payouts.

For more information on the Maine Schools for Excellence, see: www.maine.gov/doe/excellence/.

For information about the Teacher Incentive Fund, see the U.S. Department of Education website: www2.ed.gov/programs/teacherincentive/awards.html.