All Maine schools are our priority

In August, the Department announced that we’d secured federal flexibility for Maine schools in the form of a two-year waiver from some provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

At the heart of Maine’s approved plan is a system of differentiated recognition, accountability and support for Maine’s 380 Title I-served schools. Schools are placed, based on student proficiency and progress, in one of five categories: priority, focus, monitor, progressing and meeting.

These tiers allow the State to best target its support to the schools that past performance shows need it most. For example, Maine’s lowest performing schools identified in the “priority” category will have access to targeted Title I funds and have a school improvement specialist assigned to support them in developing and implementing a detailed improvement plan.

Since August, many in Maine’s education community have been anxiously awaiting the list of schools by support category, and we want you to know we’re hard at work developing that. While all Maine schools are our priority, in September, we contacted the 50 or so schools that we had initially identified by their data as either “priority” or “focus” schools. But since then, the Department has had to make multiple rounds of revisions to that list as some districts have chosen to withdraw their Title I funding from those selected schools as a result of them having been identified.

That’s disappointing to us because we want to ensure that critical and available resources – including our improvement support and Maine’s $50 or so million Title I dollars –  are utilized by the Maine schools who need them most. Yet ultimately, we respect that local district leaders need to make decisions they believe best serve their students.

The Department is optimistic we are finally coming to the end of the validation process and will reach out to you with the complete list of the categorized schools as soon as it is available.

In the meantime, the Department, led by our 13 school improvement consultants, are in schools across the state each day beginning the rigorous but rewarding work with those that have confirmed their identification, many of which have expressed excitement and gratitude for the opportunity for such intensive improvement support.

We know these efforts will lead to meaningful reforms and results for all students, and all of us at the Maine DOE look forward to being a part of that important work with you.