As Maine districts have experienced increasing numbers of students and parents who speak languages other than English, there has also been an increase in the availability of machine or automated translation/interpretation software and apps. While these tools may seem like a convenient (and oftentimes free) way to meet a district’s civil rights obligations for communicating with parents, they have not yet reached the level of accuracy necessary to serve as a substitute for a qualified human translator/interpreter. Meaningful communication with parents, including parents whose children have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), is not only a civil rights requirement, but it also serves to strengthen family engagement and promote positive relationships between families and schools.
A 2015 guidance document from the US Department of Justice and US Department of Education clarifies that even a bilingual person without appropriate training cannot be used by a school to translate/interpret for parents. Whether for the vital communications listed in this guidance document or for more casual interactions, best practice is always to utilize trained professionals, such as through a phone interpretation service or translation/interpretation agency.
For a list of translation/interpretation providers, please refer to the Maine Department of Education website. For parent notices required under the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Maine Department of Education has partnered with TransACT to give districts free access to notices in 17 languages.
For further information about translation/interpretation please contact April Perkins, Director of ESOL/Bilingual Programs & Title III at (207) 624-6627 or email@example.com. For further information about supporting students with an IEP, please contact Maine DOE’s Office of Special Services at (207) 624-6713.
The Maine Department of Education held a presentation on Monday, December 10 about the details of Maine’s Model of School Support under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which includes the release of the new, user-friendly, public Report Cards in early January. Below is a link to a recording of the session and links to the PowerPoint Presentation, in addition to all of the handouts from the presentation.
Further questions about Maine’s ESSA Plan, Maine’s Model of School Support, and the Report Cards should be directed to Acting Director of Learning Systems, Janette Kirk Janette.Kirk@maine.gov or ESEA Federal Programs & School Turnaround Director Chelsey Fortin-Trimble Chelsey.A.Fortin@maine.gov.
Maine defines English language proficiency (ELP) as sufficient skill in English necessary to meaningfully access the curriculum. As part of Maine’s Model of School Support, part of Maine’s rollout of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), this indicator of school success focuses on English learners and measures the progress they make toward English language proficiency each school year. ESSA requires that each state include an indicator that gauges, “progress in achieving English language proficiency as defined by the State and measured by the assessments within a State-determined timeline for all English learners.”
What does this look like in Maine?
English learners are students who have a primary or home language other than English and are in the process of learning English. Around 3% of Maine’s students are English learners and their schools support them in learning English to succeed academically. They may receive English language support services inside or outside of their regular classes, through programs specifically for English language development, or through a variety of other supports. It usually takes 4-7 years for an English learner to become proficient in English, but this can vary depending on many factors.
Each year, English learners are administered ACCESS for ELLs, an assessment that measures a student’s ability to listen, speak, read, and write in English. A student’s overall score ranges from 1.0-6.0. In Maine, English language proficiency is defined as level 4.5, so the progress in English language proficiency indicator measures how much progress a student makes each year toward reaching level 4.5. A school’s score for progress in English language proficiency is based on the average percentage made towards the annual target for each student, where there are at least ten (10) English learners.
School level descriptors for progress in ELP is as follows:
|The average progress towards the students’ annual target is less than 65%
||The average progress towards the students’ annual target is between 65% and 80%
||The average progress towards the students’ annual target is between 80% and 95%
||The average progress towards the students’ annual target is greater than 95%
How progress in ELP will be presented on the report card:
In the example provided below, there are less than 5 students who are English learners and therefore the data has been suppressed (notated by a *).
The TransACT training scheduled for November 6, 2018 in Machias, as described in this DOE newsroom article, has been cancelled due to low registration. Please note that the trainings scheduled for November 5, 2018 in Portland and Bangor are still happening as planned.
If you would like further information about TransACT Parent Notices, especially as it pertains to their use as a parent and family engagement tool, please contact April Perkins, Director of ESOL/Bilingual Programs & Title III at (207)624-6627 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Maine Department of Education makes Seal of Biliteracy available to all qualifying students
During a special announcement at the Maine State House on October 29, 2018, Commissioner Robert G. Hasson, Jr of the Maine Department of Education announced a new opportunity called the Seal of Biliteracy that will be available to qualifying students upon graduation, starting in June of 2019.
The Seal of Biliteracy is an award given at graduation in recognition of students who have studied and attained a high degree of skill in English and at least one other language by high school graduation. For the first time, Maine will be offering all students an opportunity to graduate with the Seal in June 2019. The Seal seeks to encourage students to pursue biliteracy, recognizes the positive cognitive and academic benefits of being bilingual, and can serve as evidence of academic and workplace readiness.
There are two pathways to earn the Seal of Biliteracy. To qualify, all students must maintain a high degree of skill in their first language. Students, whose first language is English, can earn the Seal by attaining a high degree of skill in another language. Students whose first language is not English, can earn the Seal by attaining a high degree of skill in English.
In previous years, the Seal of Biliteracy has been offered to students in Portland Public Schools thanks to the work of Carlos Gomez, Director of Language Development. This Department of Education initiative will provide the opportunity to every student in Maine. The Seal of Biliteracy started in California in 2008 and is now offered by 32 states and the District of Columbia.
Earning the Seal of Biliteracy comes with tangible academic and workplace benefits for students. Those students who choose to pursue post-secondary education can show the Seal of Biliteracy designation to select universities to earn college credit. For those students who choose to enter the workforce after graduation, the Seal brings potential employers attention to the additional work ready skills they possess.
For more information please visit the Maine Department of Education website.