PRIORITY NOTICE: Public Comment Period for Science and Alternative Science Waiver from Public Reporting Now Open

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is seeking thirty (30) days of public comment from October 16 – November 14, 2020, on a waiver application (waiver from §8401(b) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015) to the U.S. Department of Education (USED). The request seeks a waiver from publicly reporting student general and alternate science test data from the Spring 2021 assessment administration.

The U.S. Department of Education requires state educational agencies, when seeking waivers from statutory or regulatory requirements, solicit public comment on the application, respond to public comments, and provide evidence of the available comment period. A copy of the letter seeking waiver from §8401(b) of the ESEA as amended by ESSA can be downloaded with key elements of the request included below:

Federal program affected by the requested waiver

Section 1111(h) of the ESEA, as amended by the ESSA, requires State and LEA report cards to include information on student achievement on the academic assessments in reading/language arts, mathematics, and science described in section 1111(b)(2) at each level of achievement (as determined by the State under section 1111(b)(1)) for all students.

Maine is seeking a waiver from public reporting for the general and alternate science assessments. Maine’s 2021-2022 ESEA Data Dashboard (Report card) will continue to publicly report alternate assessment results for mathematics and English language arts.  Maine will continue to report the math and ELA/Literacy assessment results to parents through individualized student reports .

Maine will continue to meet all other reporting requirements. Maine specifically requests a waiver from the public reporting of both the general and alternate science assessments performance only.

Sections impacted include:

  • Section 1111(b)(2)(B)(iv)
  • Section 1111(b)(2)(B)(xi) (disaggregation of alt. science data by subgroup)
  • Section 1111(h)(1)(A)
  • Section 1111(h)(2)(iii)

Impact to Student Achievement

There will be no impact to assessing student achievement as all eligible students will continue to participate in the general science and science alternate assessment where applicable. The waiver will permit Maine to not publicly release student general and alternate science assessment achievement data. The Maine Department of Education will only report participation rates related to the administration of the general and alternate assessment in grades 5, 8, and the third-year high school during the 2021 spring administration. During the 2022 spring assessment administration, Maine will participate in the science alternate assessment on-line operational alternate assessment.  Standard setting and post equating in the summer of 2022 would allow for reportable student achievement levels and scores that fall.


Assessment administration will follow all assessment administration policies and protocols. Schools will be provided science data within the confidential reporting platform. Individual Student Reports (ISRs) will be available for bulk download in order to share applicable math and ELA/Literacy student performance with parents/guardians or caretakers.

Continuity of Services to Students

Public Comment

Maine has solicited public comment regarding a request for a waiver from public reporting. This public comment was announced through the Departments Newsroom, social media accounts and through relevant Listservs. Public comment was solicited between October 16th and November 14th, 2020 for a period of 30 days. A summary of comments and the Department’s response is attached with the waiver request. All comments, in support of or against the waiver request should be submitted to Janette Kirk at




Free and Simple Motor Break Activates for Maine Schools

Team Long Run has some great free programs for Maine schools this fall. Knowing that kids are less distractible after even just a short amount of moderate-intensity activity, Team Long Run has developed two fun programs that are free to Maine schools and aim to help teachers get their classes back in the “learning zone.”

Sizzle and Pop is an in-class desk-side activity series that gets kids energized and focused in just a few minutes. It’s a fun, quick, and simple motor break:

Recess Run Club is a 15 minute activity that gives kids a “mask break” and a chance to get outside and move! Teachers take their class outside to run (or walk!) around an established observable loop for just enough time to reset focus and “get the wiggles out.”

Get in touch with us at for advice and/or downloadable support materials.

MEDIA RELEASE: Mills Administration Updates COVID-19 School Health Advisory System

York County rejoins all other counties as green

AUGUSTA — The Mills Administration today released an update to its color-coded Health Advisory System that classifies counties’ relative risk of COVID-19 transmission by color and that is provided to assist schools as they continue with their plans to deliver instruction and support students safely this fall. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) assessed the data and trends for the counties. Based on this assessment, York County will be moved from yellow to green. All other counties remain green.

The move was made as York County demonstrates improved metrics, including a falling case rate per 10,000 of 4.67 and a lower positivity rate of 0.9 percent. Maine DHHS and CDC continue to closely monitor Androscoggin County, along with Kennebec and Somerset Counties.

The Health Advisory System categorizations are defined as follows:

  • RED: Categorization as “red” suggests that the county has a high risk of COVID-19 spread and that in-person instruction is not advisable.
  • YELLOW: Categorization as “yellow” suggests that that the county has an elevated risk of COVID-19 spread and that schools may consider additional precautions and/or hybrid instructional models as a way to reduce the number of people in schools and classrooms at any one time.
  • GREEN: Categorization as “green” suggests that the county has a relatively low risk of COVID-19 spread and that schools may consider in-person instruction, as long as they are able to implement the required health and safety measures.  Schools in a “green” county may need to use hybrid instruction models if there is insufficient capacity or other factors (facilities, staffing, geography/transportation, etc.) that may prevent full implementation of the health and safety requirements.

The county-level assessments are based on both quantitative and qualitative data, including but not limited to recent case rates, positivity rates, and syndromic data (e.g., symptoms of influenza or COVID-19). Those data are publicly posted every week on the Maine CDC website. DHHS and Maine CDC also consider qualitative factors, such as the presence of outbreaks that may potentially affect school-age children.

The Health Advisory System reflects ongoing analysis of evolving data and serves as one piece of information that school and district leaders can use to make decisions about how to deliver education this fall. The qualitative and quantitative considerations and data used by the CDC in determining community transmission risk levels for schools can be located here: How County Risk Levels for Maine Schools are Determined

The Health Advisory System can be found on the Maine DOE website in Part I of the Framework for Reopening Schools and Returning to In-Person Classroom Instruction

The next update is scheduled for Friday, October 23, 2020.






MSSM Graduate Working to Bring Commercial Suborbital Launch Market to Maine

Seth Lockman, a graduate of Maine School of Science and Mathematics (MSSM) is part of the team launching “Stardust,” a 20′-tall, 14”-diameter prototype rocket from Loring Commerce Centre in Limestone in late October. The rocket will have a 540-pound liftoff mass and reach 4,000 feet. The purpose of the launch is to show the bio-derived, carbon-neutral rocket fuel in flight, and to demonstrate commercial demand for suborbital launches by carrying commercial payloads. Lockman said one benefit of the non-toxic fuel is that it could be ingested without causing notable harm. Lockman believes Maine could be an affordable alternative to existing suborbital and orbital launch sites for small rockets and noted the growth pipeline company Frost & Sullivan “projects small-satellite launch service revenues will pass $69 billion by 2030.”

Lockman graduated MSSM in 2011 and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology summa cum laude from the University of Maine in 2015.

Lockman said he enjoyed the psychology program because it has “a great focus on statistics, data sampling, and skeptical interpretation of data.” After college, he volunteered at Southworth planetarium at the University of Southern Maine under the tutelage of Edward Gleason, Planetarium Manager. While there, Lockman founded a radio program in collaboration with WMPG in Portland, Maine. The program, Radio Astronomy, now called Scientifically Speaking, brought astronomy to the general public and included field recordings from events, live shows, as well as guest interviews with industry experts. One such interview was with Sascha Deri, Founder and CEO of BluShift Aerospace, Inc. in Brunswick, Maine. That connection led to Lockman’s employment with the company in October of 2018.

This story was submitted by Ryan McDonald, Public Relations Coordinator from Maine School of Science and Mathematics as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea, email it to Rachel at

Registration Open for FREE Virtual Future Teachers Academy Oct. 20-21

Open to Maine high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors, this free, virtual Future Teachers Academy will be held on Oct. 20, 1:00 – 3:00 pm and Oct. 21, 2:00 – 4:00 pm. The event is for students who are interested in exploring the field of education.

During the academy, students will have the opportunity to imagine themselves as a future educator as they: design a game idea for a future classroom, problem-solve challenges, and collaborate with peers throughout the state.

Any students who are interested in creativity, leadership, and making a positive difference in the world through education are encouraged to attend the academy. The Future Teachers Academy is a collaboration between Thomas College, The Maine State Teachers of the Year program, and the Maine Department of Education.  #TeachMaine #LoveTeaching

Register here: