Preparing to Educate Students who Are English Learners- Reviewing Lau Plans

As schools prepare for the 2019-2020 academic year, the Maine Department of Education would like to offer its support to help educators proactively plan effective programs for students who are English learners (ELs). Each year many new families arrive to Maine over the summer, or transfer from one Maine district to another. When school enrollment begins in the fall, districts may enroll a student who is an EL for the first time or may experience an increase in the number of students who are ELs as compared to last school year. The following suggestions and resources can help educators prepare to identify and serve students who are ELs and engage their families and communities.

The first step in preparing to serve students who are ELs is to have an up-to-date, board-approved Lau Plan, which is essentially the district’s road map, detailing how it meets federal and state policies for English learners. “Lau” refers to a 1974 US Supreme Court decision, Lau v. Nichols, that confirmed the rights of English learners to meaningfully access their education. In other words, Lau v. Nichols established that students who are English learners must be provided with English language acquisition support to enable them to meet the same challenging academic standards that other students are expected to meet. All districts are required to have a Lau Plan as part of the school approval process. To help districts create a thorough, well-crafted Lau Plan, the Maine Department of Education provides the Lau Plan Template and Guidance.

Staffing an effective program for students who are ELs is another key step. However, it is often difficult for districts to predict the coming school year’s count and the intensity of each student’s needs in order to plan staffing accordingly. Staffing must be responsive to student needs; the level of services that students are provided should not be determined by current staffing. Because of this, districts may find themselves in need of more teachers than anticipated. In such cases, the Maine Department of Education offers to share job postings with English for Speakers of Other Languages(ESOL) educators and to connect districts with qualified consultants in the region, whom districts may then screen and hire through their standard processes.

It is recommended to designate a staff member to manage the process for identifying students who are ELs, including administration of English language proficiency screening assessments. Also, having an existing staff member become (660) ESOL-endorsed is a proactive way to ensure readiness, should any students who are ELs enroll unexpectedly.

For information regarding Maine’s requirements for providing services to students who are ELs, please see the resource and policy guide, Serving Maine’s English Learners. For further assistance, please contact April Perkins, Director of ESOL/Bilingual Programs & Title III, at april.perkins@maine.gov.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Conceptual Conversation Around the Performance Evaluation and Professional Growth Systems (PEPG)     

Since 2012, educators across the State of Maine have worked collaboratively to create locally developed, effective models for professional growth. Since that time, plans have been revised and refined to reflect the requirements of Chapter 180 and school or district goals. In response to changes to Chapter 180 made during the 129th legislative session, The Maine Department of Education invites interested stakeholders to attend a conceptual conversation related to educator effectiveness on August 5, 2019 from 3pm-5pm at the Burton Cross Building (Room 103A and 103B) in Augusta.  The conceptual conversations will provide an opportunity to explore hallmarks of educator effectiveness in the current rule Chapter 180.   

PL 2019, Chapter 27, removed the mandate that student learning and growth be used as a measure in summative effectiveness ratings effective on September 1, 2021.  In accordance with the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 20-A, sections 13704 and 13706, the Department of Education is required to amend the department’s rule Chapter 180: Performance Evaluation and Professional Growth Systems, to implement the provisions of the law, and submit the provisionally adopted rule to the Legislature.   

The department intends to take the following steps in order to submit the provisionally adopted rule to the Legislature by January 10, 2020, as required.   

  1. On August 5, 2019 stakeholders are invited to attend a conceptual conversation which will be facilitated by Maine Department of Education’s Educator Effectiveness Specialist Emily Gribben and Legislative Liaison Jaci Holmes; the Commissioner and other Maine DOE members may join the conversations as their schedules allow. This conversation will be guided by the following discussion prompt: 

Prompt: What are the critical components of educational practice that lead to educator’s overall effectiveness?  

2.  Taking into consideration the insights gained from conceptual discussions and the requirements under Chaptered Law 27, the Maine DOE staff will write a proposed rule Chapter 180 and begin again the Maine Administrative Procedures Act (A.P.A.) major substantive rule process pursuant to 5 MRS §8052 (public notice of filing, public hearing, open public comment period).The Maine DOE is working diligently to honor the hard work that has been done by steering committees and all educators to implement PEPG systems that foster improved teaching and learning.   

3.  Once the proposed rule has been filed, the public will be notified of the scheduled public hearing and comment period.  This will be an opportunity to provide written and oral comments regarding the proposed rule.  

4.  The department will review all comments and respond accordingly.  Updates to rule will then be filed for legal review before being submitted to the legislature by January 10, 2020.   

For more information on the conceptual conversations for Chapter 180 and Educator Effectiveness, contact Emily Gribben at Emily.gribben@maine.gov.   

 

Educators Invited to Write Maine’s Computer Science Plan. Application Due Monday, July 29th!

The Maine Department of Education is hosting a Computer Science Summit, where educators will create a statewide plan for Pre-K to 12 Computer Science. This plan will help coordinate and guide the efforts of many stakeholders, and serve as a set of recommendations in a report to the Legislature in January 2020. The two-day event will be held on Monday, August 5th and Tuesday, August 6th, 2019 at the RiSE Center at the University of Maine in Orono.

In order to make sure we have a diverse set of perspectives and all the needed knowledge, the Department will be limiting the participation to 40 educators, who will be selected based on a short application process. The goal is to have representation from various geographic areas, content areas, and grade-levels to shape this plan over the course of the two-day Summit. Additionally, the Department hopes to have representation from district and school leadership.

The application to participate can be located using this link or by copying and pasting this link into your browser: https://forms.gle/3EGengsXFyMNtgLt7

The application is due by close of business Monday, July 29th and invites will be sent on Tuesday, July 30th, 2019. 

Reimbursement for mileage, overnight accommodations, and meal costs are available for eligible participants.

The Department will also be inviting a variety of stakeholders to participate in specific ways in this process before, during, and after the Summit, however, this two-day gathering is primarily designed for educators to create the statewide plan.

Who: Maine Pre-K to 12 Classroom Teachers and Administrators (limited by application process)

What: Creating a Statewide Computer Science Plan

Where: RiSE Center in Estabrooke Hall at the University of Maine in Orono

When: Monday 8/5 from 10am – 8pm AND Tuesday 8/6 from 9am – 5pm

Application (https://forms.gle/3EGengsXFyMNtgLt7) due Monday, July 29th, 2019.

If you are unable to participate in the two-day event, but would like to share input, please review the digital workspace educators will use during the planning process. There are links to share your questions, ideas, feedback, and notes at the top of most pages. Click here for the link to the Computer Science 2019 State Planning Digital Workspace or copy and paste this link into your browser: https://sites.google.com/view/mainedoecsplanning2019/home

For answers to questions or more information, please reach out to Beth Lambert, Coordinator of Secondary Education and Integrated Instruction at Beth.Lambert@maine.gov or 207-624-6642.

 

 

 

Cultivating Safe, Equitable, Strengths Focused School Communities- A Collaborative Opportunity

What:

The goal of this convening is to build capacity, communication, and collaboration among youth serving practitioners based in schools, law enforcement, community corrections, and community programs to cultivate safe, equitable, strengths focused school communities where all youth experience positive outcomes. The meeting will advance effective and ongoing multidisciplinary partnerships to increase communication, expand training and resources, align strategies, and measure progress across youth serving systems.

When:

Tuesday, July 30, 2019
8am-4pm

Where:

Cony High School
60 Pierce Dr.
Augusta, ME 04330

More Details:

Registration and breakfast open at 8 am, the program will begin at 9 am. The full agenda, featuring Judge Steven Teske presenting the School Justice Partnership Model, will be published in July.

Contact:

Contact Jay Pennell with questions:
jay.h.pennell@maine.gov

Maine DOE Engages Stakeholder Input Through Regional Think Tank Series

Drawing its largest gathering of stakeholders, the Maine Department of Education (DOE) hosted its 5th event in a series of Think Tanks held at various locations throughout the state this spring and summer. The Think Tanks are a way for the Department to discuss various topics and gain feedback from stakeholders about ongoing initiatives, long term programming, and to inform future decision-making.

In this first round of Think Tanks, the following topics were discussed: redefining school success, the Maine Learning Through Technology Initiative (MLTI), educator readiness, educator excellence, and special education.

The July 8th event held in Augusta started off with a warm introduction from Deputy Commissioner Daniel Chuhta thanking participants for making the trek to Augusta, in some cases from as far away as Washington County. Shortly after, attendees split off into three large groups to discuss specific topics for the day.

The discussion about MLTI, hosted by Beth Lambert, Maine DOE Coordinator of Secondary Education and Integrated Instruction, was introduced with an explanation of the 20 year history of MTLI, an acknowledgement that information will be forthcoming in regards to the recent passage of the budget and the coming school year, and that the day’s feedback will aid in the planning of the future of MLTI beyond 2021 when all of the current contracts have come to an end.

“Before we begin, I want to mention that there is only one thing that is off the table for today’s discussion,” said Lambert in her opening remarks. “We will not be talking about whether or not to end the MLTI Program,” she noted. “MLTI has been around for 20 years, and we would like it to be around for many, many more years to come.”

Stakeholder presenting feedback

Over the course of the next few hours the group was split off into four smaller groups, each tasked with identifying values, concerns, and suggestions on large sheets of chart paper. A summary of those lists was then shared out with the entire group before the session ended prior to lunch.

Meanwhile in another session, a group was discussing the answers to a specific set of questions posed by Maine DOE Deputy Director of the Office of Special Services, Ann Belanger:

  • What is the most challenging aspect of the special education process?
  • Do you find the Maine Unified Special Education Regulations (MUSER) user friendly? What would make them more user friendly?
  • How can the Maine Department of Education support districts and parents in providing services to students with disabilities?
  • Are there topics/issues about which you feel that more information and/or training is needed? What are they?
  • Are there practices and/or policies that create barriers for students with disabilities?

Stakeholders engaged in worksessionParticipants then shared their collaborative responses with the entire group, working together to carefully record all the responses in notes. The group then worked together to create the ideal special education program, detailing the processes that would need to be involved to create this type of ideal setting.

For the session about redefining school success, Mary Paine, the Director of a new Office of School Success, introduced an initiative that engages educators, students, parents, and communities in conversations about what they think makes a school successful. Her session worked to further engage with stakeholders on this topic. The framework that results from the Maine Defines School Success statewide dialog will eventually complement Maine’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan by providing a broader set of indicators of success in Maine’s schools. In addition to being part of the Think Tanks series, the school success discussion will continue in school communities throughout the state over the course of the next school year.

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Led by Maine DOE’s Office of Higher Education and Educator Support Services, the educator readiness session prompted participants to discuss talent needs that are ideal for teacher candidates including pre-service and in-service, as well as what is needed to ensure teachers are prepared for equity and diversity in the classroom.

Each session resulted in walls of chart paper filled with written notes detailing suggestions, ideas, concerns, values, and much more. “We are pleased with the participation and appreciate that folks were willing to join us in these discussions across the State,” said Deputy Commissioner Chuhta.

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Following the July 8th event there will be an additional Think Tank held in Winter Harbor this fall to discuss the same topics and the Department is also planning to release a survey for those unable to participate in discussion topics at the Think Tanks already held.

“In the works is a new section of the Maine DOE website dedicated to the Think Tanks where the transcribed notes from each of the sessions will be available along with other information,” said Chuhta. “In the coming months, the notes will be synthesized to help us determine next steps and guide decision making on the topics discussed,” he added.

In a continuation of the Think Tank Series, the Department is expecting to launch another round of Think Tanks on a different set of topics over the course of the coming school year.