MEDIA RELEASE: Certification Processing Reduced to Three Weeks

The Maine Department of Education is pleased to announce that its certification office has reached its operational goal of a three-week turnaround time for processing educator certification applications that are complete. This is an enormous improvement from the significant processing times educators have been experiencing.

“The Department has been working diligently to reduce processing times to ensure that qualified educators can receive a Maine teaching credential as quickly as possible,” said Commissioner Pender Makin. “We know how critical the certification process is, especially during a time when many of our schools are experiencing a shortage of teachers and substitutes.”

In 2017, the Maine Department of Education launched a new online certification system called the Maine Educator Credentialing System (MEIS). It is a web-based educator credentialing system which replaced an outdated paper application certification system. At this point in the rollout of MEIS, Maine educators and administrators are able to manage their certification renewals completely online. The next phase of the rollout will allow initial educator applications to be submitted completely online by educators, this will be followed by the rollout of the public certification portal.

Certification Processing Times & Reminders

A huge thank you to the education field for their patience and understanding as the DOE has continued to implement enhancements to the new online certification system and enhance information found on the certification webpage.

Processing Times

Additionally, the DOE is now taking steps to provide additional manpower to the certification team in the upcoming weeks. Processing time has been reduced from 12 weeks to 7 weeks (currently) for all complete applications and the intent is to continue to minimize processing time. Our goal is to reduce processing times to a 3-week turnaround time by the end of February.

Renewal Reminders

Ed Tech renewals that expire on February 1, 2019 will need to be done through the online certification system (Maine Education Information System portal). If educators have not yet created their online account, please do so. Step by step instructions on how to create an account and apply for renewal can be found here.

Teachers (and Ed Techs if applicable) will appear on the renewal verification list 6 months prior to their expiration date. Once you verify they have completed renewal requirements, teachers are welcome to complete their online renewal. If a teacher renews early, the new certificate will not begin until the current one expires.

Only renewal applications are being submitted through the MEIS system. For new certificates, new endorsements, or certificates that have lapsed, paper applications need to be mailed to or dropped off at the certification office.

Further information is available on the Maine DOE Certification webpage, or in the Maine DOE Newsroom. For specific questions about certification status contact the Certification Office at 207-624-6603.

Important Information Regarding Lapsed Certificates

Please note that we have just reached the 6-month threshold for all certificates that expired on July 1, 2018.  This means that any educator who has not yet applied for renewal is now considered lapsed and will need to submit an initial paper application. Educators with lapsed certification will now appear on the Superintendent’s violation list if they are currently employed.  If the support chairs had verified their renewal requirements, that verification is now null and void.  New applications submitted by the educators will need to include all contact hours and/or semester hours needed for renewal.  Because there is a lapse in certificate, these educators will now also need to be re-fingerprinted with IdentToGo before their certificates can be issued.

Ed Tech renewals that expire on February 1, 2019 will need to be done through the MEIS portal. For anyone who has not yet created an online account, please do so as soon as possible. Step by step instructions on how to create an account and apply for renewal can be found here: https://www.maine.gov/doe/cert/renewals

District Support Chairs – Teachers (and Ed Techs if applicable) will appear on your renewal verification list 6 months prior to their expiration date. Once you verify they have completed renewal requirements, teachers are welcome to complete their online renewal.  If a teacher renews early, the new certificate will not begin until the current one expires.

As a reminder, only renewal applications are being submitted through the MEIS system. For new certificates, new endorsements, or certificates that have lapsed, paper applications need to be mailed to or dropped off at the certification office.

The certification office will be posting updates on their home page http://www.maine.gov/doe/cert/index.html as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and in the DOE newsroom.

Proposed Revisions to Rule Chapter 115: Credentialing of Educational Personnel

As part of the Maine Department of Education’s efforts to streamline and clarify certification processes for Maine educators, the Department is proposing revisions to Rule Chapter 115: Credentialing of Educational Personnel. The Department had withdrawn an earlier proposal in order to make necessary changes and fall within the timeframe needed for public hearings and legislative action during this session. Having made those changes, the Department is now releasing a refined proposed rule for public comment.

Please note: The Part I proposed changes are to the current Rule Chapter 115, Part 1, adopted in July 2018. The Part II proposed changes are to Rule Chapter, Part II, adopted in August 2017, which had been scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2019.

The proposed Rule Chapter 115 can be found here (proposed rules are listed in order by rule number).

Summary of changes: Part I revisions refine and correct for articulation with statute and Part II and clarify certain provisions. Part II revisions include clarifications and refinements as well as more substantial changes, including the elimination of some provisions scheduled to take effect July 1, 2019. Part II proposed changes include:

  1. Eliminating literacy course work for Secondary Teacher Endorsement, Pathway 2
  2. Proposing grade spans: Public preschool-3, K-8, 6-12, Public preschool-12, and K-12
  3. Establishing a pathway to qualifying as a secondary teacher based on work experience and specified education course work
  4. Refining Career and Technical Education endorsement requirements to better meet the needs of the field.
  5. Sun setting endorsement 093: School Psychologist (Specialist or Doctoral), Pathway 4; and updating the requirements for this pathway
  6. Repealing and replacing endorsement pathways for some certificates to account for statutory changes in types of certificates (e.g. the elimination of the targeted certificate) and for clarity.

Public Comment Period Information for Rule Chapter 115:

Public Comment Period: December 26, 2018 – January 28, 2019
Comments should be submitted to Mary Paine at mary.paine@maine.gov or to the address below.

Public Hearing: January 14, 2019, 9:30 – 11:00 am Rm. 500, Cross State Office Building, 111 Sewall Street, Augusta, Maine. People wishing to speak are asked to sign in and provide two written copies of their comments.

Anyone unable to send comments via email or attend the public hearing may send written comments to:

Mary Paine
Department of Education
23 State House Station, Augusta, ME

Upcoming Review of Local MACM Programs; SAUs to be Contacted

As a reminder, Maine’s Alternative Certification and Mentoring Program (MACM), in response to OSEPS’s requirements for qualified special educators, is in progress. The goal of MACM is to ensure that conditionally certified special educators earn Professional Certification by the end of a three year period.

As part of this work, the Department has contracted with Elaine Tomaszewski, a former special educator, special services director, and superintendent, to facilitate the development of structures in school administrative units (SAUs) to ensure strong systems of support. The intent is to strengthen existing district systems of mentoring or coaching whenever possible, or assist in developing systems as necessary.

As an early step in the process, SAU’s across the state will be contacted via email by December 21st requesting access to their existing support system information (manuals, plans). The intent is to review and compare them to national standards.

If your Special Services or Curriculum Director is contacted please encourage them to participate in this early phase of the work. If your district is not contacted but would like to have their information shared please contact Elaine Tomaszewski directly at elaine.tomaszewski@gmail.com