DOE provides guidance on educator evaluation steering committees

The next generation Performance Evaluation and Professional Growth (PE/PG) systems under development in Maine entail major shifts in how we approach the evaluation and professional development of educators. In making these shifts, schools in Maine and other states where educator effectiveness systems have been implemented report that stakeholder involvement, constituency buy-in and collaboration are essential to a successful outcome.  

With broad participation comes a diversity of interests and questions about roles, responsibilities and authority.  In Maine, these questions commonly relate to the roles, responsibilities and authority of the local Steering Committee and what many in the field refer to as the “implementation” or “development” committee.  To answer these questions and clarify requirements, the Maine DOE offers the following information and guidelines, based on Chapter 508 of Title 20-A and the Department’s provisionally-adopted Rule Chapter 180.

Steering Committee: The Steering Committee is the only committee required by Maine’s PE/PG system statute. Formed no later than the beginning of the pilot period of the PE/PG system, the Steering Committee is directed to “regularly review and refine the PE/PG system to ensure that it is aligned with school administrative unit goals and priorities.” According to statute, the Steering Committee is composed of “teachers, administrators and other school administrative unit staff.” Rule Chapter 180 further requires that the Steering Committee include “representatives of the local education association, appointed by the local association.”   The Steering Committee may be given roles and responsibilities beyond what’s required in statute, but those would be matters of local policy. However, regardless of its given function or composition, the law does not vest the Steering Committee with the authority to make decisions reserved for the local school board or decisions that must be made through collective bargaining.

Implementation or Development Committee: Contrary to common belief, the law does not require a formal implementation or development committee Confusion in the field likely arises from a provision in Rule Chapter 180 (Submittal Requirement J) that states that a school administrative unit (SAU) must include in its submittal of a PE/PG system for Department approval “a description of how teachers, principals, administrators, school board members, parents and other members of the public were involved in development of the system.” Some have interpreted this language as making reference to a development or implementation committee, but this is not an accurate interpretation. How an SAU involves the stakeholders referenced in Submittal Requirement J is a matter of local policy.

To recap, three groups of people could be involved in the process of developing and monitoring a PE/PG system—an implementation or development committee, a community stakeholder group and a steering committee. The Steering Committee is the only committee required by law, and the law sets forth the specific functions and composition of the committee, which together denote a permanent entity composed of educators in a school system.

This is not to say that members of the local Steering Committee cannot serve in other capacities, such as participating in the development of a PE/PG system. And it is also not to say that members of a community stakeholder group as referenced in Submittal Requirement J cannot be part of a development committee. Beyond the required Steering Committee, an SAU may organize its work groups and ensure stakeholder involvement in ways that best suit its local needs.

For more information or technical assistance, please contact Maine DOE Educator Effectiveness Coordinator Mary Paine at mary.paine@maine.gov or 207-624-6748.