As many of you know, since LD 1858, “An Act To Ensure Effective Teaching and School Leadership,” was enacted in April 2012, the Department has been working to establish rules to guide you in your local development of the now required teacher and principal evaluation and support systems.
It is with great frustration that I report to you that while the 125th Legislature unanimously supported this initiative to implement a fair, meaningful educator evaluation system, legislators this session have failed to reach consensus – specifically around fulfilling the law’s directive that measurements of student learning and growth be a significant factor in the determination of the rating of an educator. As a result, the Department will need to start the process of adopting Chapter 180 over again in the fall in order to submit a provisionally adopted rule to the Legislature in January 2014. You should also know that because the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee removed our request for $5 million over the next biennium to provide targeted educator evaluation funds, we will unfortunately not be able to provide you the monetary support we had hoped for development at this time.
All that said, Maine DOE is creating resources to support your evaluation system development, including launching a new website, scheduling a series of regional meetings and preparing to reintroduce our rule to legislators in January. We are also in the process of hiring a statewide effectiveness coordinator to coordinate the Department’s efforts to prepare, evaluate and support educators and to further our vision of an effective teacher in every classroom and an effective leader in every school.
Just as we’re moving ahead, we encourage you to do the same.
While we lack the finally adopted rule, the statute requiring a local educator evaluation and support system is still in place. It lays out the timeline and the basic elements your system must be built upon, including the expectation there be multiple measures of effectiveness with student learning and growth as a significant factor among them. The law also directs there to be four levels of effectiveness in your rating scale and the types of professional development and support to be provided to educators to help them succeed.
Continuing your work locally using the statute and the professional practice standards within the provisionally-adopted rule as a guide will ensure you will be on track to meet the law’s timelines, including the 2014-2015 pilot year expectation and the 2015-2016 full implementation deadline.
The Department still believes that improving educator effectiveness is the single most important action we can take for our students and that teachers and principals need evaluation systems that support professional development and improvement, and ultimately, higher student achievement.
Your progress in developing your local evaluation systems will also assure the U.S. Department of Education that Maine is taking seriously a critical principle of our ESEA waiver application – teacher and principal evaluation and support systems. As their staff ask us questions and suggest adjustments as part of their final weeks of review, we have continued to reiterate to them that our Department and our districts are fully committed to continuously improving the effectiveness of our teachers and school leaders. We thank you for sharing that commitment, and for your patience.
Expect to hear from us as updates or new resources become available. In the meantime, if you have questions about the development of your local evaluation and support system, please contact Deborah Friedman, DOE Director of Policy and Programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.