Seeking Public Comment to waive requirements related to assessment, chronic absenteeism, accountability identifications and accountability components within Maine’s Model of School Support

As part of protocol, we are posting an opportunity for public comment regarding the Maine Department of Education (DOE) seeking a one-year waiver pursuant to §8401(b) from requirements within the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015) from the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE). The U.S. Department of Education requires state educational agencies, when seeking waivers from statutory or regulatory requirements, solicit and respond to public comment on the request and provide evidence of the available comment period. This 15-day public comment period from March 25 – April 10, 2020, waives requirements related to chronic absenteeism, accountability identifications and accountability components within Maine’s Model of School Support.

Maine’s Model of School Support contained within Maine’s ESSA state plan, focuses on supporting and assisting schools and educators experiencing challenges. The Maine DOE is working diligently to continue supporting Maine’s schools during this pandemic of COVID-19. Maine’s Model of School Support is immediately impacted by the Department’s waiver request.

Requirements from which Maine is seeking a waiver include:

  • Assessment requirements in section 1111(b)(2): the requirements to administer all required assessments in school year 2019-2020.
  • Accountability and school identification requirements in sections 1111(c)(4) and 1111(d)(2)(C)-(D): the requirements that a State annually meaningfully differentiate all public schools and the requirements to identify schools for comprehensive and targeted support and improvement and additional targeted support and improvement based on data from the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Report card provisions (ESSA Dashboard) related to certain assessments and accountability in section 1111(h) based on data from the 2019-2020 school year, namely:
    • Section 1111(h)(1)(C)(i) (accountability system description).
    • Section 1111(h)(1)(C)(ii) (assessment results).
    • Section 1111(h)(1)(C)(iii)(I) (other academic indicator results).
    • Section 1111(h)(1)(C)(iv) (English language proficiency assessment results).
    • Section 1111(h)(1)(C)(v) (school quality or student success indicator results).
    • Section 1111(h)(1)(C)(vi) (progress toward meeting long-terms goals and measurements of interim progress).
    • Section 1111(h)(1)(C)(vii) (percentage of students assessed and not assessed).
    • Section 1111(h)(1)(C)(xi) (number and percentage of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities taking an alternate assessment).
    • Section 1111(h)(2)(C) with respect to all waived requirements in section 1111(h)(1)(C) as well as 1111(h)(2)(C)(i)-(ii)(information showing how students in a local educational agency (LEA) and each school, respectively, achieved on the academic assessments compared to students in the State and LEA).

Federal program affected by the requested waiver

Maine’s Model of School Supports identifications will be impacted due to the following reasons:

  • Exclusion of the chronic absenteeism indicator

Governor Janet Mills declared a state of Civil Emergency on Sunday March 15, 2020. As a result, schools were recommended to cease traditional classroom-based instruction as soon as practical and for the duration of our state of Civil Emergency, currently 30 days to be re-established as many times as the situation warrants. Maine schools are not providing traditional classroom-based instruction within brick and mortar buildings. As of March 25, Maine schools remain “closed” through April 27th.

  • Excluding the 95% participation rate within the academic achievement indicator

The grade 3-8 and 3rd year of high school math and ELA/Literacy assessments, are currently closed and therefore students are unable to participate.

  • Exclusion of additional school identifications and subsequent supports to schools

As a result of excluding the chronic absenteeism indicator and not utilizing the 95% participation rate for academic achievement, Maine’s Model of School Support will not have a complete data set and will be unable to identify additional schools eligible to receive supports.

Comments may be submitted to: ESSA.DOE@maine.gov