Grading system top DOE news of 2013

We hope you enjoyed the holidays and some well-deserved down time to recharge for the New Year. As our Department looks forward to serving you in 2014, we also wanted to reflect back on our work from a very busy past 12 months.

Of the nearly 600 items posted in our Maine DOE Newsroom in 2013, not surprisingly our release about Maine’s first school report cards was the most viewed item, with related posts taking up several of the other top traffic spots.

While Maine’s first true statewide accountability system caused controversy, it is doing exactly what we at the Department intended: providing public transparency through an easy-to-understand snapshot of school performance based on existing data, spurring school improvement and focusing our own system of supports. Since A-F launched last May, tens of thousands of parents and members of the public have taken steps to learn more about the performance of their local school, as evident by the popularity of the posts below, visits to our website and education Data Warehouse, and the calls we receive each day. We’re already hard at work calculating the next round of grades and hope they generate as much as interest in our schools and what they are doing well and need work on when we release them in the early spring.

As determined by your visits, here are the top 10 stories of 2013 from the Maine DOE Newsroom:

Governor LePage, Education Commissioner release report cards for Maine schools
AUGUSTA – With the release today of report cards for each of the state’s schools, the Department of Education has provided Mainers with a better understanding of where their schools stand, and how they can improve.  | More

Preparing for A-F grading system
During his State of the State address in February, Governor LePage announced that Maine will introduce a school performance grading system to simplify for parents, taxpayers and others how their schools are doing. Many of you have expressed interest in and concern about how we will generate the grades, and what we will do to support schools that receive low grades. | More

Implementing LD 1422: Proficiency-Based Diplomas
The change to a learner-centered, proficiency-based system of education is one of the most significant changes in education in the last 100 years. It holds great promise for helping all students graduate career- and college-ready for the 21st century. The Maine Department of Education has built its strategic plan, Education Evolving, around this principle, and we are restructuring our service delivery model to improve our ability to assist districts in accomplishing this shift. | More

Maine NECAP test results released
AUGUSTA – Reading and math scores in grades 3 through 8 are flat, while writing scores increased slightly after a decline the previous year. The scores are from the latest New England Common Assessment Program tests, taken in October 2012. | More

State of Maine grants schools more flexibility in choosing technology
AUGUSTA – Thousands of Maine students will be firing up Hewlett-Packard laptop computers next school year. On Friday, the Maine Department of Education announced HP as its preferred contractor in the Maine Learning Technology Initiative’s latest bid process. | More

School report cards set benchmark
It’s been a busy week at Maine DOE as we released the first A-F report cards for each of the state’s schools as part of the new Maine School Performance Grading System. Now that we have a usable and understandable benchmark of where schools are, the real work begins! | More

More info on school grading system
Over the next few days you will start to receive information about the A-F school grading system, which will be released soon. I will be sharing some of the data with you, and more explanation of how the grading system works. We’ll also be scheduling webinars with superintendents to explain the system and how we plan to unveil it. | More

Teacher of the Year nominees announced
Commissioner Stephen Bowen congratulates 14 teachers from across the state who have been nominated to become Maine’s 2014 Teacher of the Year. The program highlights great teachers and teaching. One nominee will be named the Teacher of the Year during a surprise event in September.  | More

Online training available for reporting abuse, neglect
Teachers, guidance counselors, administrators, bus drivers and others responsible for student welfare in schools are required by Maine law to report to their supervisors or to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services whenever they have reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or neglect has occurred. | More

Maine DOE Certification Office launches new website
The Maine Department of Education’s Certification Office is pleased to announce the launch of its new website. Much care was taken to provide Maine’s education community with the necessary materials for all its credentialing needs. | More