Media Release: Maine DOE Experiences a 40 Percent Increase in Educator Certification Applications

Maine DOE’s Certification Team Processed 40 Percent More Initial and Renewal Certification Applications Over the Summer Compared to Last Year

The Maine Department of Education experienced a 40 percent increase this summer in the number of initial and renewal educator certification applications processed compared to last year. The Maine DOE’s certification team processed more than 11,000 certification applications between June and August.

“While educator shortages persist across our state, this increase is encouraging and the Maine DOE is committed to doing everything we can to build and support the education workforce in our state. This is the most important work of our society and we want people to know that Maine is a state that respects, supports, and empowers our educators. If you want to become an educator in Maine, we want to make sure you have a pathway into the profession and that you are supported in the classroom,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin.

Maine DOE Educator Recruitment and Retention Efforts and Initiatives:

  • Developing, supporting, and sustaining a robust educator workforce is one of the Maine DOE’s six strategic priorities.
  • Research demonstrates that feeling supported and respected is key to educator recruitment and retention. Maine stands out as a state that respects educators as professionals and the Maine DOE empowers teachers to take risks and be innovative.
  • One of the Mills administration’s first actions was to raise minimum teacher salaries to $40,000.
  • Last year, The Maine DOE released Teach Maine, a comprehensive roadmap to develop, support, and sustain a robust educator workforce in the state. Teach Maine is organized around four key themes: incentivize recruitment and retention efforts; expand and diversify educator workforce efforts; support educator development, growth, and leadership; and elevate educators and the education profession. The report is the result of contributions by education stakeholders throughout Maine, who provided feedback via multiple channels, including regional Think Tanks, focus groups, surveys, organizational meetings, and informal conversations. Additionally, the Department of Education convened an Educator Talent Committee, a core group of internal and external stakeholders, to share their experiences, look at research and trends, and to make recommendations on how to address Maine’s educator shortage.
  • Last month, the Mills administration announced a new initiative to help Maine schools recruit, train, and retain educators through pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs. Under the initiative, schools and other education and community-related organizations can apply for competitive funding, with awards of up to $250,000 to begin local educator pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs to help address Maine’s educator workforce shortage. Read more.
  • The Maine DOE partners with Live + Work in Maine to encourage people to come live and teach in Maine. Through the partnership, all school administrative units (SAUs) have free access to Live + Work’s highly trafficked job board to recruit educators. The partnership has expanded to include a national advertising effort to Live and Teach in Maine and educator-specific content on Live + Work’s website.
  • The Maine DOE invested in the BARR (Building Assets, Reducing Risk Model) for Maine schools. Research has shown that the BARR model results in increased job satisfaction for teachers and higher levels of collaboration. 71 new Maine schools are implementing the BARR model this school year.
  • The Maine DOE’s Educator Summit brought together 600 educators this summer for 4 days of professional learning opportunities with more than 100 workshops. The DOE’s certification and educator excellence teams were on site to support educators and prospective educators, including a job fair on the final day.
  • The Maine DOE also encourages educator leadership by creating opportunities for peer-to-peer professional learning and by establishing statewide teacher cohorts around such areas of interest/expertise as: digital learning/Computer Science, interdisciplinary and project-based learning, innovation and design thinking, BARR schools, literacy, special education, and more. The Maine DOE offers robust professional learning opportunities throughout the year.
  • Maine DOE staff visited 7 summer camps in 2022 and 10 summer camps this summer to speak with counselors about how the skills they develop as camp counselors can lead to opportunities and pathways into the teaching profession.
  • Maine DOE staff serve on the advisory board for the University of Maine System Teacher Residency. The University of Maine System Collaborative received funding through a Congressional Directed Spending earmark supported by Senators King and Collins. The Maine Teacher Residency Program offers paid internships for new teachers and supports student teaching candidates, emergency, and conditionally certified teachers and connects them with teacher education programs to strengthen their preparation and retention.
  • The Maine DOE is working with the Region 1 Comprehensive Center to build state and local staff capacity to collect, analyze, and use educator supply-and-demand data in order to better inform educator recruitment and support efforts. A pilot program will get underway beginning in December.
  • Prospective educators can reach out to the Maine DOE’s educator excellence and certification teams to receive personal support from DOE staff to create their roadmap to becoming a certified teacher in Maine.
  • Through Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan (MJRP) funds, the DOE supported UNE’s Future Teachers of Maine Summer Institute allowing dozens of high school students who have shown an interest in the teaching profession an opportunity to live on campus for a week. Students learn from and with students currently in UNE’s educator preparation program during the weeklong deep dive into the teaching profession and the steps it takes to get into the classroom.
  • Through an AmeriCorps Planning Grant, two York County high schools worked with the Maine DOE to place AmeriCorps members with teachers of first-year students. Those members will not only support students as they navigate high school but will also learn from master teachers and support Maine’s pipeline into the teaching profession.
  • The CDS/AmeriCorps First 4 Partnership is currently looking to recruit, train and empower 17 AmeriCorps members to serve and support children with disabilities with building social emotional skills and school readiness children enrolled in CDS preschools across the state.  The investment in members will not only serve to ensure positive preschool experiences and improve child outcomes for those children, this opportunity will also provide important, dynamic training, 1:1 mentoring and experience for each volunteer to utilize toward certification in the educational field. CDS is committed to building a robust early education workforce. As part of this initiative CDS will support teacher or educational technician licensure for future employment in Maine schools.
  • Maine DOE’s Special Educator Engagement Development & Supports (SEEDS) program provides training and professional learning opportunities to Ed Techs in special education classrooms to support their professional growth and opportunities to achieve their special education teacher certification.
  • The Maine DOE supported passage of LD 753, which Governor Mills signed into law. The bill will allow retired teachers and educational technicians to renew their certification and help fill educator shortages by re-entering the classroom.
  • The Maine DOE worked with US Department of Education to name teacher shortage areas for Maine for SY 23-24. Eligible teachers in those certification areas qualify for enhanced federal student loan forgiveness.
  • The Maine DOE was awarded a $9 million 5-year grant from the US DOE to recruit, respecialize and retain school social workers, school counselors, and school psychologists to work within schools.
  • The Maine DOE is working with CTE schools to expand their education preparation programs beyond Early Childhood Education.
  • The Maine DOE continues to support the EMCC Learning Facilitators program, which offers an alternative, skills-based pathway toward Education Technician III certification. Program participants enroll in a “boot camp” to complete initial coursework and then the rest of their experience is directly in schools under the guidance of EMCC staff and local school mentors.  The Maine DOE supported passage of LD 1366, which opens the door to other institutions of higher education replicating the success of EMCC’s program.