Back to School Backpack for Administrators!

As the students and staff arrive with their new, back to school items, we want to make sure that our administrators have what they need for a great new year, too!  The Department of Education has created a special “Back to School Backpack” for building and district leaders. In it, you will find resources that will help you with the climate, culture, inclusiveness and wellness of your schools and students, and a number of documents and ideas to consider for the new school year.  We encourage you to look through, and let us know how we can help you and your schools throughout the year!  Please be sure to sign up for our weekly updates, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, check out our expanding professional development offerings, send good news to us, and encourage your staff to join the content specific listservs by contacting the content specialist.

Grab your backpack, and have a great school year!

The Transformational Leaders’ Network (TLN): Learn More!


Twenty-four Maine administrators came together this summer for the first 3-day Transformational Leaders’ Network (TLN) retreat held at the Senator Inn in Augusta.  Fully sponsored by the Maine Department of Education, districts made a meaningful commitment to support their leaders in building their capacity. Led by several facilitators with expertise in designing and coordinating educational leadership graduate programs at the University of Maine, as well as school coaching and mentoring, the retreat was structured to help these leaders further their skills to realize the goals of their school improvement plans.

During a conversation about the growing demands on school leaders, Marie Robinson, PreK-12 principal of Katahdin’s Schools and superintendent of Medway, said, “At what point do you say ‘Stop–I need to come up with a better way’.”  Marie had been a participant in a previous TLN cohort. During the retreat, participants had the opportunity to hear from other school leaders who, like Marie, had been part of that TLN cohort.

“I didn’t think of the [TLN] meetings as another thing I was going to have to do.  I looked forward to my meetings, knowing that I would come out refreshed and ready to problem solve,” Marie shared as she sat in a roundtable discussion with other principals from around the state. She went on to explain that the TLN didn’t tell her what to do about any one specific issue she was experiencing, but rather that her TLN experience gave her the resources and know-how to approach a situation with a new perspective and a toolbox of ideas.

Ainslee Riley, principal of Thomaston Grammar School, a first-time participant in the program, commented on her experience at the retreat, “I wasn’t sure what to expect from the conference, it sounded interesting on paper,” she said in an email following the conference. “I am so happy that I decided to attend.  It was an excellent opportunity for me to focus on my school goals and my personal goals as an educational leader.

“It is not often that administrators have an opportunity to get together outside of their own district for the purpose of helping one another to grow,” she added. “I would recommend this experience to any administrator, whether they are brand new to the profession or a veteran.”

At the beginning of the retreat, participants went around the room introducing themselves, including information about where they were a school leader, and for how many years. There was a range of expertise in the room, everywhere from,  “I just finished my first year as a principal and before that I was a teacher,” a response met with knowing smiles and head nods from around the room, to others with 15 to 25 years of experience in school leadership. All participants brought to the table a unique set of experiences, circumstances, and challenges to share and reflect upon.

In addition to providing school leaders an opportunity to connect with one another, celebrate successes, and address challenges, the retreat goal was for them to develop two action plans for the coming year: one to include continued and on-going professional learning and growth for their schools as a whole, and one for transformational leadership, professional self-growth, and self-care as leaders.

The range in growth plans was broad, focusing on RTI and data, visioning and collaboration, addressing difficult issues, and providing meaningful leadership to staff in order to raise students’ success.

The TLN is not a new program of the Department of Education.  It was originally designed over six years ago to support school leaders of struggling schools.  However, the TLN for 2019-2020 kicks off an opportunity for any and all Maine principals, assistant principals and curriculum coordinators to join the network. The yearlong TLN experience will bring school leaders together to support leadership growth and to improve schools. The program will include regional meetings, leadership training, coaching, networking, and professional development for school level leaders who are interested in joining.

To learn more information and register to join the TLN, please visit the TLN webpage ( ).

For further questions or information about the Transformational Leaders’ Network (TLN), contact Chelsey Fortin-Trimble, ESEA Federal Programs and School Turnaround Director at

Graduation Reporting-Phase Two- Reminder and Webinar for Assistance

Phase II of graduation will allow schools the opportunity to review and make necessary changes to correct or update exit codes from the 2018/19 school year for their 4th, 5th and 6th year students. The only exits changes allowed during this phase are to the exit of ‘Graduated with diploma’ or ‘Not enrolled, eligible to return’. This phase will focus on ensuring accuracy of exit statuses for students who are part of the 2019, 2018 and 2017 cohorts.

Graduation Reporting Phase II
Opens: August 1st
Due: August 30th

Graduation Phase II Webinar
The Department will be holding an online webinar for Phase II of graduation reporting. The webinar is designed for any school staff who may be asked to complete Graduation Reporting Phase II for their school or district.  During this webinar we will review the process, as well as give a detailed walk through on how to complete Phase II of reporting. Registration is free, but necessary prior to the webinar. This ensures that connection details can be shared with participants.

Webinar Date/Time: Thursday, August 22nd 11:00am-12:30pm

Webinar Registration:

More information on the Graduation Reporting process can be found on our website at:

If you have any questions regarding reporting or NEO access, feel free to contact:
Access: MEDMS Helpdesk – (207) 624-6896
Reporting: Trevor Burns (Student Data Coordinator) – (207) 624-6678


Reduced Rate Access and Training for Pk-3rd Grade Teachers Using Teaching Strategies Gold®

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) has finalized a contract with Teaching Strategies to support the use of their Gold® assessment tool in elementary grade (Pk-3) classrooms.

Teaching Strategies Gold® is an authentic formative assessment tool that aligns to Maine’s Early Learning and Development Standards for PreK and Maine’s College and Career Ready Standards for kindergarten through 3rd grade. Teachers observe and document evidence of student skills as part of authentic instruction.  Data collected through this assessment is captured in an online platform.

Public schools will be able to access a reduced per student rate of $15.95 for the 2019-20 school year. Schools may apply for this reduced rate here. Use of Teaching Strategies Gold® is an option for use as part of a school or district’s local assessment system.  It is not a state required assessment.

In addition to the reduced rate, the Maine DOE is hosting a two-day training on August 19th and 20th for teachers and administrators who are new to using this assessment.  The training will be held at the Maine State Library located at 230 State St. Augusta, Maine. Training will cover the research behind Gold® and how to access the online platform. Educators will also have time to navigate the tool and practice observation skills of individual student development. Administrators new to the tool are encouraged to attend day one (8/19/2019). Training is limited to 30 participants and will be offered on a first come, first served basis. Registration will automatically close once it has reached 30 participants.

Registration for all participants is now open through August 16, 2019.

Click here for more information about Teaching Strategies Gold®,

For questions, contact Nicole Madore at 624-6677 or