Space Still Available for Leading Early Learning Series

Applications for the Leading Early Learning Series will be accepted through July 5.  School administrators who support the PreK to Grade 3 span are strongly encouraged to explore this dynamic professional learning opportunity.

Leading Early Learning—A Professional Learning Series for Elementary School Administrators

 “Participating in the series has helped me to look at the decisions we make about our instructional programming and school community through the lens of early learning and what is developmentally appropriate for our youngest learners.” – Quote from Cohort 1 participant

As Maine elementary schools have added preschool programming and are promoting whole child approaches across the Pre-K -Grade 3 span, elementary principals have requested professional learning to support their work as educational leaders.  The Maine Department of Education and several Maine educational organizations (listed below) have collaborated to design an exciting professional learning series to address identified needs and support professional growth.  The Leading Early Learning series was piloted with 16 administrators in 2021-22 and we are pleased to announce the second cohort for this series will launch during the 2022-23 school year.

The series will not only provide participants with opportunity to deepen their knowledge of early learning pedagogy and best practices related to supporting students and teachers across Pre-K-3, but it will also provide a professional learning network, opportunity to design a concept for an implementation project, and be supported through facilitated discussions.  Participants will engage in a variety of modes of learning, from asynchronous modules to professional learning communities to attendance at a statewide early learning conference.

If this opportunity interests you, please review the details for the series in the informational guideA link to apply for the series is included in the informational guide.  The series will support up to 25 participants.  Applications will be received through July 5, 2022. Once spaces are filled, a waiting list will be generated.

For additional information, please contact Lee Anne Larsen, Director of Early Learning at Maine DOE, leeann.larsen@maine.gov.

Leading Early Learning Partner Organizations

  • Maine Department of Education
  • Maine Roads to Quality Professional Development Network
  • Maine Association for the Education of Young Children
  • UMaine Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies

MaineCare Seed Adjustments to be Made, Review Q3’22 Reports by July 15, 2022

The recovery of Q3’22 MaineCare Seed will occur in the July 2022 subsidy payment and the Maine DOE is asking Districts to review their reports by July 15, 2022 to ensure accurate adjustments to subsidy. SAU staff must review, and submit disputes and student by student claims on both the public and private MaineCare reports for Q3’22 by July 15, 2022.

To access the MaineCare Seed reports, please follow the instructions below.

  1. Log into NEO using the link below
    https://neo.maine.gov/DOE/neo/Dashboard
  2. Click on the Student Data tab
  3. Click on the Student Report tab
  4. Select MaineCare in the Reporting Area drop-down
  5. Choose the quarterly Seed report and the report type (private/public)
  6. save iconClick “view report” button
  7. Once the report appears on the screen, choose the export button.

You may export the reports to Excel but, please be aware that there may be multiple worksheet tabs within the workbook. Save the file to your computer.

To dispute a claim:

If you disagree that a particular student or time period should not be on the report, please send an email with the following information for each State Student ID to stephanie.clark@maine.gov.

  • State Student ID
  • The reason that you disagree
  • Identify the type of report: public or private
  • Quarter in which the claims are located
  • Service provided dates (From and To)
  • Total amount of Seed being disputed

Summer services:

Students must be enrolled for the time period they are receiving educational services. This means that students that are receiving extended school year services in district or extended school year services in an out of district placement must have a primary enrollment for that time period in order for the MDOE to have the most accurate enrollment data to determine SAU responsibility for MaineCare Seed.

If you have difficulty logging into NEO:

Anyone who currently has Special Education Director permissions to the Special Education module will automatically have permission to access MaineCare reports.
As in the past, if a new staff member needs permission to access this module, a request from the Superintendent to the Maine DOE helpdesk will be necessary. The helpdesk contact information is medms.helpdesk@maine.gov or 207-624-6896.

Please contact stephanie.clark@maine.gov for more information or technical assistance related to MaineCare Seed

The Torch: Civil Rights Team Project Summer Newsletter – How Some Schools Address Bias-Based Language

Administered by the Office of the Maine Attorney General, the mission of the Civil Rights Team Project is to increase the safety of elementary, middle level, and high school students by reducing bias-motivated behaviors and harassment in our schools.

The Civil Rights Team Project recently revamped their newsletter to broaden their reach to Maine schools and community across Maine.

For further information about the Civil Rights Team Project including how to get involved, reach out to Kathryn Caulfield, Project Assistant, kathryn.caulfield@maine.gov or Brandon Baldwin, Project Director, brandon.baldwin@maine.gov or visit the Civil Rights Team Project Website.

Maine DOE Seeks Public Comment on Accountability Waiver & Report Card Provisions

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is seeking public comment on a request to the U.S. Department of Education (USED) to waive some of the requirements in Maine’s federal accountability system. Maine has administered all required assessments to meet the expectations outlined in ESEA section 1111(b)(2), and as with any transition to a new state-administered assessment, the Department is required to ensure that all accountability system requirements are met.  

Pursuant to Sections 8401 (b) and 8401(d)(2) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and Section 421(b) of the General Provisions Act, the Maine DOE is seeking approval from the U.S. Department of Education to: 

  • Waive implementation of Maine’s accountability system and 
  • Waive report card provisions related to certain assessments and accountability in section 1111(h) based on data from the 2021-2022 school year, namely:  
    • Section 1111(h)(1)(C)(i) Accountability system description  
    • Section 1111(h)(1)(C)(iii)(I) other academic indicator 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).  

If granted, waiving §8401(b) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015 will continue to advance student achievement as all Maine students continue to receive instruction and participate in a variety of local and state assessment. This ongoing relationship between curriculum, instruction, and assessment, provides the opportunity for schools to continue focusing on student (group) achievement and to identify and support students (groups) who may be experiencing challenges. Identification of schools at this time – before we have completed the standard-setting process – could lead to errors in school identification. Flaws in the identification of schools impacts the credibility of not only Maine’s Model of School Support but the Maine DOE. Maintaining supports for currently identified schools will:  

  • Allow the Maine DOE to provide continuous support to school and classroom leaders during the 2022-2023 school year. Currently identified schools have indicated their preference to remain identified and receive assigned supports.  
  • Ensure the trust developed between the Maine DOE and the Maine SAUs/schools is preserved. 
  • Avoid the identification new schools during a transition of assessments without the ability to develop relevant, realistic, and achievable goals. 

Additionally, granting the waiver request would provide the Maine DOE, in collaboration with SAU leaders, the opportunity to provide extended, meaningful professional learning to districts and schools around the updated state assessment, its purposes, and appropriate applications of the data.  These professional learning opportunities will also serve to expand state assessment literacy and engagement among the field and increase the capacity of educators and administrators to share this information in an accurate and timely way with Maine students, families, and community stakeholders 

As part of the statutory requirements for seeking this waiver, the Maine DOE must solicit and respond to public comment on its waiver request as well as provide evidence of the available comment period.  The public comment period shall begin on June 24 and conclude on July 11, 2022. A copy of the full waiver is available on the ESSA webpage within the Maine DOE website. Public comments on the waiver request may be sent to ESSA.DOE@maine.gov 

Bucksport Students Design Their Own Outdoor Classroom

On Wednesday, June 1, the students and teachers at Bucksport Middle School (BMS) celebrated a big achievement. Since August 2021, students have been prototyping, designing, and constructing elements of an outdoor experiential learning environment through team building and design thinking challenges. And now, after almost a year, their new outdoor classroom, which was made possible by a three-year $130,000 federal innovation grant, has been brought to life.

Art and STARS Teacher Hannah Bailey, Science and STARS Teacher Kent Burnham, and Special Education and STARS Teacher Katie True have been working to serve alternative education 6-8th grade students by facilitating as they built this new outdoor classroom. STARS (Students Taking Alternate Routes to Success) is an experiential advisory program that started in the summer of 2021. STARS aims to support students through hands-on learning, including designing and building a home base, while focusing on connecting student interests with community resources and providing extra opportunities to reconnect with each other, with their teachers, and with school.

To start this project, students took a trip to Troy Howard Middle School to check out their outdoor classroom, outdoor kitchen, and garden to gain some inspiration. While the students were there, they drew pictures of Troy Howard’s facilities, to take back as blueprints for the models they were about to make. Next, Hammond Lumber supplied a model of the outdoor classroom, which students used in conjunction with their drawings to create prototypes out of cardboards. Once the prototypes were finished and refined, students met with Orcutt Builders, Hammond Lumber, and the RSU 25 maintenance crew to review and finalize their plans.

As Orcutt Builders got to work on constructing the exterior of the classroom, BMS STARS students got to work designing the interior of their classroom. Their first task was to create chairs that could hold their weight out of cardboard. Next, they started doing skill building to learn how to use their new tools by constructing birdhouses. Once the birdhouses were completed, students learned how to construct tables and chairs from a furniture maker and, using feedback from teachers, began to prototype their own. As Orcutt Builders began to put the exterior of the building up in early October, students learned how to wood burn, creating signage for their soon-to-be hub.

As the classroom began to take shape, students began to assist in its construction, helping to build the knee walls and even painting it the light blue color they had voted on. Then, as Orcutt Builders finished up the construction of the exterior of the classroom, students turned the prototypes of their tables into reality – constructing, sanding, and painting them themselves. In addition to an outdoor classroom aimed to engage increased school attendance and hands-on learning, the students have also built 12 benches and 6 tables for the classroom and are currently in the process of building 12 garden boxes to have outside of the classroom to grow their own flowers and vegetables.

The STARS students say they enjoyed the entire process and are excited for next year. One student shared that she had fun this school year. While she loved getting to put her hands in the wet cement of the classroom and growing closer to her classmates, her favorite part of the classroom is the garden boxes. Another student said his favorite part was getting to meet and interact with different teachers, students, and experts.

The school also plans to construct an applied learning laboratory next to the outdoor classroom, set to open in June 2023. The space will include a 4-season greenhouse, kitchen, makerspace, and aquaponics system, among other features, and is being funded through a $250,000 federal grant through the Maine Department of Education’s Rethinking Responsive Education Ventures program.