AUGUSTA – Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen announced plans today for providing supports to low-performing schools. The plans are the next step following last week’s release of a new letter grading system for Maine schools.
The improvement support plans have been the focus of the Maine School Performance Grading System, in which Bowen and Governor Paul R. LePage seek to propel community discussion about schools and how to help them improve. In the weeks and months ahead, the Maine Department of Education will be taking a series of action steps designed to better support schools as they work to meet the needs of all students.
Bowen said the Department will reach out before the end of the current academic year to every school that received a D or an F. Title I Improvement Team staff and regional representatives will analyze the schools’ data, review initiatives and programming, and help identify the most pressing technical assistance and professional development needs.
“Here at the Department, we’re going to keep track of the data we collect from our outreach to schools,” Bowen said. “We’re literally creating a room to serve as a strategic school improvement data and center, which will meet and discuss where schools are in their school improvement work and better coordinate outreach and support, much as school staff meet and discuss the individual needs of students and individualized improvement plans for those students.”
Bowen said his Department will compile data and feedback from low-performing schools to help guide improvement efforts. And by the end of May, the Maine DOE will establish a weekly webinar series focused on school improvement strategies for teachers and school leaders.
In an effort to learn more about what is currently working in Maine’s education system and what is not yielding results, Gov. LePage will seek input from educators from across the state. “Our teachers are the eyes and ears of our education system and it’s important we listen to them. They know what works and what doesn’t, so I’ll be creating a teacher advisory panel to provide direct feedback from our teachers on how the state can best support teaching and learning in the classroom.”
Over the summer, the Commissioner will create his own task force—comprised of teachers, schools leaders, curriculum specialists and content area experts—to focus on expanding high quality professional development.
The Department will work with schools during the 2013-14 academic year to develop individualized school improvement plans that will include action steps and measureable outcome goals. These improvement plans will help direct the school improvement work of both the schools themselves and the Maine DOE.