Maine DOE provides Q & A on educator effectiveness system development

Earlier this month, the Maine DOE announced the final adoption of rule Chapter 180, which governs the development and implementation of Performance Evaluation and Professional Growth (PE/PG) systems that improve teacher and principal effectiveness.

With that announcement, the Department listed the major changes to the rule as a result of a recent legislative resolve. One of the new requirements calls for an “initial group” composed of a majority of teachers to be charged with developing local PE/PG systems, with a provision allowing existing development committees who may not match the required composition to remain in place under certain conditions.

A related provision requires that a consensus decision-making process be used in developing the system components. While the school administrative units (SAUs) we have heard from embrace the idea of a collaborative development process, the inception of the new requirements imposed by the Legislature, coming after many committees and processes had already been established, has prompted many questions. In an effort to provide timely guidance, the Department is providing a consent form that SAUs may use as-is or as a model and answers to the frequently asked questions.

How does the Department interpret “consent”?

Any time a party seeks the consent of another to act, the consent should be informed. Teachers and the school committee must know why they are voting, what they are voting on and what the consequences of their yes or no vote will be.

Do we have to use a certain form and will the Department provide it?

The Department has developed a form for SAUs to use for the teacher vote if they wish, which can be found here. We do not require SAUs to use this form, but whatever form is used should provide for informed consent as described above.

What if we already took a vote and got consent?

If you used a form providing for informed consent, retain that form for submittal with your system. If you are not sure that you provided for informed consent, either retake the vote using the Maine DOE form or have your local teachers’ association president sign off on the following statement:

We the ___________________________________state that when the teachers of this SAU voted on the composition of the initial group charged with developing the performance evaluation and professional growth system that the teachers understood the consequences of both a yes vote and a no vote.

What if we are an AOS with multiple boards?

The consent must be obtained from a majority of teachers who will participate in the PE/PG system being developed. The same holds true for multiple school boards. For each separate PE/PG system in the AOS, a separate majority vote must be conducted.

What if we take a vote but not enough teachers to make a majority of all teachers voted? May we use the majority of those who did vote?

No. The consent must be by a majority of teachers in the SAU.

May we take a second vote if not enough teachers voted?

An SUA may repeat a vote one time if not enough teachers voted the first time, provided the second vote is one of informed consent.

May we take an anonymous vote?

An SAU may take an anonymous poll only if the vote is conducted in person, e.g., at a faculty meeting.

Does consent to retain the original group include consent to all the decisions that group has made?

No.  The rule requires a consensus decision-making process. The legislative amendment did not exempt previous decisions from the consensus process. Once the development committee is endorsed and in place, it may adopt by consensus the entire slate of decisions already made, or the group may take each one up individually. Either way, if the group fails to reach consensus on a component, that component must be redeveloped and agreed to by consensus.

How does the Department define consensus?

Consensus means that everyone agrees to let a decision go forward, e.g., can at least “live with” it.

For more information about the requirements of the adopted rule or for technical assistance on standards and supports for teacher and principal effectiveness, contact Maine DOE Educator Effectiveness Coordinator Mary Paine at mary.paine@maine.gov or 207-624-6748.