Administrative Letter: Important changes in documenting medical services in Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)

Administrative Letter: 13
Policy Code: BGB
To: Public School Administrators and Special Education Directors
From: Robert G. Hasson, Jr., Ed. D. Commissioner
Date: April 14, 2018
Subject: Important changes in documenting medical services in Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)

The Maine Department of Education has instituted new requirements for Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) beginning May 1, 2018. This guidance is offered in collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services. The purpose of this change is to clarify the documentation of educationally and medically necessary services on the IEP aligning to Section 65 and Section 28 of the MaineCare Benefits Manual.  These changes will ensure compliance with documentation required for access to MaineCare benefits.

When an IEP Team determines that the nature and severity of a child’s educational needs are significant enough that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily (MUSER X.2.B. page 120), the least restrictive environment (LRE) statement must reflect the fact that certain services will be necessary in order for the child to access the curriculum.

Beginning May 1, 2018, the Department requires that newly developed or amended IEPs contain justification for medically and educationally necessary services such as day treatment services, rehabilitation services, nursing services, or other medical services that a child needs in order to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Other educationally and medically necessary services such as speech and language, occupational therapy, physical therapy, social work services, and transportation are already listed in the service grid. The justification will be stated in the least restrictive environment section (LRE) of the IEP (Section 9).

The LRE statement must include information that would justify MaineCare paid educationally necessary medical services. An example of such a statement is the following: “Due to the child’s complex medical needs, the child requires a highly-structured setting with a predictable routine, clear and consistent consequences and integrated therapy for social and emotional needs in a significantly more restrictive day treatment setting”.  Please note that an LRE statement might include additional explanation and that the above example is not intended to necessarily model a complete LRE statement.

Beginning May 1, 2018, schools are requested to write an LRE statement similar to the above example depending on the specific needs of the child.  When the revised IEP form goes into effect on August 1, 2018, it will still be important to develop an appropriate LRE statement but the documentation for MaineCare purposes will be in section 8, “Additional Medical Services for FAPE”.

A draft copy of the revised IEP form can be accessed at the following site:  http://maine.gov/doe/specialed/forms/index.htmlPlease note: this form is only a draft and the revised IEP form will change before implementation on August 1, 2018. 

Further guidance will be included in a revision of the procedural manual available on the Special Services webpage sometime before the August 1 date.  For more information, contact the Department of Education – Office of Special Services at (207) 624 -6713.

Changes in Joint Rule Chapters 126/261: Immunization Requirements for School Children

This notice is to inform you of the recent changes to the joint rule (Chapter 126/261), Immunization Requirements for School Children, (statutory authority, Title 20-A §6352). The Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education have revised the Maine School Immunization Requirements rule to now include meningococcal meningitis disease. These changes further align Maine’s immunization rules with current national recommendations to better protect the health of all Maine people. Meningococcal disease is a rare, but dangerous disease that strikes healthy young people without warning. It can affect all ages, but teens and young adults are at highest risk of getting the disease.

The following changes are effective for the 2018-2019 school year for all students attending a public or private school in the State of Maine:

  • One dose of meningococcal vaccine MCV4 (serogroups A, C, W, and Y) is required for all students entering 7th grade.
  • Two doses of meningococcal vaccine MCV4 are required for students entering 12th grade, with a minimum interval of 8 weeks between dose one and dose two. If the first dose of meningococcal vaccine was administered on or after the 16th birthday, a second dose is not required.

For your convenience, the Department has prepared a sample notification letter that your school may use to inform parents/guardians of the above changes to the immunization rule.

Additionally, the DHHS  has prepared a Frequently Asked Questions attached with more information. As a reminder, no student is permitted to be enrolled in or attend a public or private school in Maine without providing either a certificate of immunization or a written medical, religious or philosophical exemption for each required school entry vaccine.

Please ensure all 7th and 12th grade student records are updated by the first day of the 2018-2019 school year for this new meningococcal meningitis requirement. If you have questions regarding this new meningococcal meningitis vaccine requirement, record keeping or immunization history reviews please contact Emily Poland, School Nurse Consultant at (207) 624-6688 or by email at Emily.Poland@maine.gov.

If you have immunization specific questions regarding vaccine schedules or validity of any doses given to a student, please contact the Maine Immunization Program at (207) 287-3746 or (800) 867-4775 or by email at ImmunizeME.DHHS@maine.gov.

Maine students among top scorers in national cyber security program

Maine students recently took part in the GirlsGoCyberStart program, a national opportunity that features fun, technical challenges and games to inspire the next generation of cyber security professionals.

Promoted by Governor Paul R. LePage, the Maine Department of Education and the Maine Office of Information Technology, the program took place February 20th through the 25th of 2018 with students from all over Maine participating.

GirlsGoCyberStart was available to the first 10,000 girls who registered with teams of 1-4 students. 18 states participated and 5 of Maine’s 60 plus teams that participated, ranked in the top 100 scorers. Participants on the top three Maine teams were awarded prizes.

Maine’s top five scoring teams were from the following high schools (in order of scoring):

  1. Bangor High School, Penobscot County
  2. Thornton Academy, York County
  3. Portland High School, Cumberland County
  4. Falmouth High School, Cumberland County
  5. Maine Connections Academy, Cumberland County

More details about the scoring can be found on the GirlsGoCyberStart website and more details about Maine team’s scores can be found on the Maine scores page of the GirlsGoCyberStart website.

PRESS RELEASE: Maine’s reading and mathematics test scores at or above national average on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

Augusta – Maine’s fourth and eighth graders scored at the national average or higher on the recently released 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests of Reading and Mathematics.

NAEP highlights the statewide academic performance for all students, as well as demographic groups including race, ethnicity, gender and socioeconomic status. The test is administered every other year to students in all 50 states, and does not include results for individual students, schools, or classrooms.

Maine’s scores and key information:

  • Maine students scored at the national average or higher, consistent with previous years.
  • Maine students did not show any significant change in performance in either mathematics or reading in grades four and eight when compared to the results in 2015.
  • Reading scores indicate a gender gap at the 4th and 8th grade levels with boys performing lower. The gender achievement gap appears to be increasing as students get older.
  • Math scores did not indicate a gender achievement gap.
Average Scale Scores
NAEP Scores National Public 2017
Assessment Area and Grade 2011 2013 2015 2017
Math Grade 04 244 246 242 240 239
Math Grade 08 289 289 285 284 282
Reading Grade 04 222 225 224 221 221
Reading Grade 08 270 269 268 269 265
 (Scores are rounded to the nearest whole number.)
For a detailed look at the each of the state’s scores including Maine, visit NAEP’s website.

“Maine students face unique challenges today that can have an impact on their learning. While I am pleased that our students are maintaining performance, the Department will continue to focus on effective strategies to improve achievement of mathematics and literacy in all grades,” said Maine Department of Education Commissioner Robert G. Hasson, Jr.

“In addition to the Department’s MoMEntum Literacy Pilot program, we are also embarking on a similar strategy called Numeracy4ME to support schools in their efforts to improve student achievement in math. It is my hope that we can expand these programs as we continue to develop them,” he added.

More information about the MoMEntum and Numeracy for ME pilot programs can be found at the following links:

NAEP scores are only one of many measures of the achievement level of Maine’s students and should not be used in isolation from other data.  The Maine Educational Assessments, such as the eMPowerME, Multi-State Alternate Assessment, and SAT, also provide valuable information about the knowledge and skills of Maine’s students.  Additionally, formative assessments and locally developed academic measurements are essential parts of a school’s instructional program.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas.  Since NAEP assessments are administered uniformly using the same sets of test booklets across the nation, NAEP results serve as a common metric for all states and selected urban districts. The assessment stays essentially the same from year to year, with only carefully documented changes. This permits NAEP to provide a clear picture of student academic progress over time with respect to a specific set of learning goals.  As noted above, however, as standards and goals for learning evolve and teachers emphasize new content, and perhaps deemphasize other content, this stability means NAEP may not be able to adequately capture learning with respect to new standards.   NAEP does provide results on subject-matter achievement, instructional experiences, and school environment for populations of students (e.g., all fourth-graders) and groups within those populations (e.g., female students, Hispanic students).


The contents of this paragraph were retrieved from the U.S. Department of Education, National Center of Education Statistics website http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/about/
Media contact:
Rachel Paling, Director of Communications, Maine Department of Education
Rachel.paling@maine.gov

PRIORITY NOTICE: Department’s proposed diploma bill (LD 1898) released for review

The Maine Department of Education’s proposal for the high school diploma, as referenced in this recent priority notice, was released from the Maine State Legislature Office of the Revisor of Statutes on Wednesday, April 4 as LD 1898, An Act To Amend Maine’s High School Diploma Standards and Ensure Maine Students Meet State Standards upon Graduation.

The Commissioner requested that the Department’s proposal be submitted as a “Governor’s” bill to allow for the greatest possible opportunity for discussion between the Department and the public. The Department considers this discussion to be an open dialog and we look forward to further conversations.

A public hearing is expected to be scheduled for early next week. Once it is scheduled, it will be posted on the Joint Standing Education and Cultural Affairs Committee calendar.

In anticipation of the public hearing, the Department is providing an updated summary of what the bill does and does not do.

LD 1898

  1. Removes the mandate that districts base a diploma on an undefined concept (“proficiency”) by repealing 4722-A and replacing it with 4722-B.
  2. Points to a reasonable and appropriate level of achievement in two foundational content areas (English and math) required for the diploma
  3. Bases achievement criteria on knowledge, skills, and progressions that are already present and defined in Maine’s Learning Results
  4. Provides students with disabilities equitable access to education and a diploma
  5. Requires that students have high quality instruction and learning in all content areas
  6. Makes room for students to access their education through both traditional, (classroom-based) avenues and non-traditional (experience-based) avenues in separate, integrated, and independent contexts
  7. Allows districts to implement diploma requirements beyond the minimum set by the state

LD 1898 does not

  1. Eliminate what has come to be called “proficiency-based education,” “proficiency-based teaching,” or “proficiency-based learning.” Instruction and learning based on learning outcomes, as described by some in recent articles, is standards-based education by a different name.  Maine schools have been striving for and succeeding in implementing teaching and learning based on standards since the state adopted the Maine Learning Results in 1997. Under the Department’s proposal, school districts may continue to teach, grade, and structure learning as they determine best meets the needs of students, parents, and the school community