Commissioner’s Conference

In case you missed the 104th Annual Commissioner’s Conference, here is a recap with valuable links.

Acting Commissioner of Education, Thomas Desjardin opened and closed the conference at Sunday River with timely updates on the ongoing FY16 budget discussions and voting at the State House at the time. He also acknowledged the ever changing educational climate and the hard work and successes of school leaders and Maine DOE’s support through its multi-faceted services.

The conference kicked off recognizing school leaders with 17 awards presented. Acting Commissioner Tom Desjardin, along with representatives of the Maine School Superintendents Association, recognized school leaders for their service, outstanding leadership and longevity. The 2015 Distinguished Service Award recipient was former Commissioner James Rier.

Then two days of presentations offered hands on training as well as collaborative learning. The full conference agenda and materials can be found here.

Proficiency-Based Education and Educator Effectiveness updates came from Anita Bernhardt, Maine DOE’s Director of Standards and Instructional Support and Diana Doiron, Maine DOE’s Standards-Based Instruction Specialist and Regional Education Representative for Aroostook County who highlighted changes to the educator effectiveness law as a result of the ESEA Waiver renewal, discussed the latest on the Plan for Equitable Access to Excellent Educators, and highlighted the patterns and trends identified in the 2014-15 statewide site visits relating to the PBE extensions.

Bill Hurwitch, Maine DOE’s Director of the Statewide Longitudinal Data System and Lance Gilman, Maine DOE’s Statewide Longitudinal Data System Trainer are all about Data You Can Use. They showed district administrators how to use data available in the Data Warehouse to perform analysis, create reports and support decision making. Also, they reviewed how to navigate reports from the National Student Clearinghouse and gave a sneak preview of the next generation Data Warehouse.

School Construction Programs were updated by Scott Brown, Maine DOE’s Director of School Facilities Services. He provided an overview of the Maine DOE’s school construction programs which included a discussion of rules, program timelines, and other information that will assist superintendents in facilities planning.

Anita Bernhardt and Diana Doiron coordinated with Maine educators to share promising practices in the Proficiency-Based Learning: Designing and Implementing to Support Student Learning portion of the program. Presenters included educators from Auburn School Department, MSAD 35, and RSU 39.

Auburn’s vision for customized learning and proficiency-based education and staff development came courtesy of Shelly Mogul, Director of the Office of Learning and Teaching with Vision 2020 and Creating the Conditions for Teachers to Be Model Learners and Refine Their Craft. We learned how Auburn is integrating the “Phases of Introducing Customized Learning” pathway for educators, reflecting learning targets tied to professional development opportunities and establishing a learner-centered culture in their classrooms.

MSAD 35’s Dr. Mary Nash, Superintendent; John Caverly, Marshwood Middle School Principal; and Heidi Early-Hersey, Director of Teaching and Learning presented Innovative Use of Time: Providing Significant and Consistent Professional Development Time. The trio shared MSAD 35’s formula for an innovative use of professional development time based on customizing the approach school-by-school for the specific and unique needs of teachers while reinforcing the belief that implementing proficiency-based learning is a concerted PK-12 effort.

And, Alana Margeson, Caribou High School English teacher and Bethany Thibeault, Teague Park Elementary School grade 4 teacher shared RSU 39’s collaborative efforts with Learning from Within: Reaching Across Grade Levels to Create the Vision of PBE. These school leaders provided a look at a unique partnership between grade 4 teachers and high school English teachers and its positive impact of tapping the collective wisdom within a district in the implementation of its vision for proficiency-based learning.

Maine DOE leaders talking everything from the legislature to the digital world.
Maine DOE leaders talking about everything from the legislature to the digital world.

Some of Maine’s Department of Education’s experts (listed below) updated attendees and answered questions re:

Maine DOE’s work with US DOE on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Waiver was presented by Rachelle Tome, Maine DOE’s Chief Academic Officer and Acting Deputy Commissioner. She provided the current status of ESEA Accountability, including expectations for 2014-15, any updates related to Maine’s Flexibility renewal request, and the status of reauthorization.

Educator Effectiveness and regulatory and statutory changes related to educator effectiveness and the intent to pilot survey and readiness guide came to us courtesy of Anita Bernhardt.  The questions and answer portion was effective as well.

Rachelle Tome, Jan Breton, Maine DOE’s Director of Special Services; Meghan Southworth, Maine DOE’s Title IIA Specialist; and Chelsey Fortin-Trimble, Maine DOE’s Title VI Specialist presented Leveraging Title & IDEA Funds to Support Proficiency-Based Education and Educator Effectiveness. This session provided information to SAUs to on how leverage non-federal and federal funds as efficiently and effectively as possible to support proficiency-based education and educator effectiveness.

Learning Through Technology came to us courtesy of Mike Muir, Maine DOE’s Policy Director for the Learning Through Technology team. He shared the focus on learning at MLTI, developing programs to support professional and leadership development, sharing standards aligned curriculum materials and other programs his team offers.