Priority Notice: Seeking Public Comment to Waive Requirements Related to Accountability and Public Reporting.   

In a US Department of Education (USDOE)  Dear Colleague letter to state chiefs on February 22nd, 2021, USDOE provided guidance and invited states to apply for waivers granting significant flexibility in the areas of accountability and reporting for the 2020-2021 school yearFollowing this guidance and flexibility, the Maine Department of Education (DOE) is requesting accountability and reporting waivers pursuant to §8401(b) from requirements within the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015)USDOE requires state educational agencies, when seeking waivers from statutory or regulatory requirements, to solicit and respond to public comment on the request and provide evidence of the available comment period. This 14-day public comment period will be available from April 27, 2021- May 10, 2021.  

A full copy of the waiver request can be located on the Maine DOE’s ESSA webpage.  In summary, the Maine Department of Education will be requesting waivers from the following requirements:  

  • Accountability and school identification requirements in ESEA sections 1111(c)(4) and 1111(d)(2)(C)-(D): the requirements that a State measure progress toward long-term goals and measurements of interim progress; meaningfully differentiate, on an annual basis, all public schools, including by adjusting the Academic Achievement indicator based on a participation rate below 95 percent; and identify schools for comprehensive, targeted, and additional targeted support and improvement based on data from the 2020- 2021 school year. 
  • Report card provisions related to accountability in ESEA section 1111(h) based on data from the 2020-2021 school year. These include: 
  • Section 1111(h)(1)(C)(i)(I)-(IV) and (VI) (Accountability system description, other than the list of comprehensive, targeted, and additional targeted support and improvement schools).
  • Section 1111(h)(1)(C)(iii)(I) (Other Academic indicator results for schools that are not high schools). 
  • Section 1111(h)(1)(C)(v) (School Quality or Student Success indicator results). 
  • Section 1111(h)(1)(C)(vi) (Progress toward meeting long-terms goals and measurements of interim progress). 
  • Section 1111(h)(2)(C) with respect, at the local educational agency (LEA) anschool levels, to all waived requirements in section 1111(h)(1)(C). 

Public Comment may be submitted to: ESSA.DOE@maine.gov. Additional questions can be directed to Janette Kirk, Chief of Learning Systems.  

Priority Notice: DOE Embarks on a Revolutionary Redesign of Assessment 

As the nation  explores the future of education and embraces opportunities for new and innovative approaches to student instruction and assessment, the Maine Department Of Education(DOE) is excited to develop a more meaningful approach to assessment.  

The federally-mandated State summative assessment is an essential component of an equitable instructional cycle. The assessment serves multiple purposes for educators, students, parents, policy makers, and community members, all with the shared goal of supporting student growth for lifelong learning.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has afforded educators the opportunity to meaningfully reflect on instructional practice, outcomes and student learning. As educators continue to explore opportunities for authentic learning, we are observing an increase in  interdisciplinary/integrated instruction and the ability of students to apply their learning in a real-world context. With this in mind, and to ensure we are assessing student learning in a similar and authentic manner, the redesign of state assessment is underway.  

The Maine DOE is seeking individuals interested in being involved in role specific assessment redesign focus groups. These focus groups will serve as collaborative thought partners as Maine’s approach to assessment and accountability is redefined, reframed and redesigned.

From these role alike focus groups, an ESSA Advisory/Maine TAC will be established. The ESSA Advisory/Maine TAC will represent the geographic and demographic diversity across the state and will be responsible for assisting the Department in synthesizing focus group feedback, suggestions, and best practice approaches to develop a cohesive assessment and accountability plan that addresses and supports the needs of Maine students while assisting Maine in meeting ESEA Federal assessment and accountability requirements 

In the coming months, role specific focus groups will meet for a half day on a bi-monthly basis. Additionally, those nominated from within focus groups to serve on the  ESSA Advisory/Maine TAC will meet for ninety (90) minutes once per month for an extended period of time.  If you are interested in being a part of this work, please complete the intent to participate form by February 26.  

MAARS Workshop and Overview of Approved Changes to Maine’s Model of School Support

Online Registration Portal for 2019 MAARS Workshop, including an overview of key changes to Maine’s Model of School Support (Accountability) is now available.

FocalPoint K12, in conjunction with the Maine Department of Education Assessment Team, will be holding a workshop for the Maine Assessment and Accountability Reporting System (MAARS). Topics during the session include an overview of the MAARS system, information on User Account management, revised Individual Student Reports (ISRs) formats, New Features, and a Q & A session.  Members from Maine’s ESEA Federal Programs team will provide an overview of key changes to Maine’s Model of School Support, as a result of the approval of the amendment submitted to Maine’s ESSA State Plan in December 2018. Each day long session is scheduled from 9 am to 3:30 pm. Lunch will be provided.

Venue and Registration Information

November 19, 2019
Abromson Community Education Center
88 Bedford St
Portland, ME 04101

Click here to register for the November 19, 2019 session.

November 20, 2019
Wells Conference Center
131 Munson Road
University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469

Click here to register for the November 20, 2019 session.

November 21, 2019
University of Maine – Presque Isle
Grand Ballroom – Aroostook Room
181 Main St
Presque Isle, ME 04769

Click here to register for the November 21, 2019 session.

Additionally, the assessment team and our reporting vendor FocalPointK12 will also be providing a MAARS webinar on November 13, 2019, 2:30 in preparation for the November 19 and 20 training sessions.  MAARS Webinar .  The audience for this session is returning and new District Assessment Coordinators (DACs) and Career and Technical Education (CTE) Directors. The updated roles within MAARS will be a critical element to prepare for the upcoming November 19 & 20 MAARS Workshops.

The content of the webinar will include:

  • Role of DACs
  • MAARS Confidential Reports Overview
  • How to add/delete/change MAARS roles and permissions (‘districtadmin’, ‘districtuser’ ‘schooluser’ ‘rosteruser’)

To access the November 13, 2019 webinar please use this link.

Please direct any additional questions regarding registrations to these sessions to Eric Buckhalter at (207) 624-6770 or eric.buckhalter@maine.gov

Public Comment Period for Alternative Science Waiver Application Now Open

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is seeking 30 days of public comment from October 31 – November 29, 2019, on a waiver application (waiver from §8401(b) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015) to the U.S. Department of Education (USED). The request seeks a waiver from publicly reporting student alternate science test data from the Spring 2020 assessment administration.

The U.S. Department of Education requires state educational agencies, when seeking waivers from statutory or regulatory requirements, solicit public comment on the application, respond to public comments, and provide evidence of the available comment period. A copy of the letter seeking waiver from §8401(b) of the ESEA as amended by ESSA can be downloaded with key elements of the request included below:

Federal program affected by the requested waiver

Section 1111(h) of the ESEA, as amended by the ESSA, requires State and LEA report cards to include information on student achievement on the academic assessments in reading/language arts, mathematics, and science described in section 1111(b)(2) at each level of achievement (as determined by the State under section 1111(b)(1)) for all students.

Maine’s 2020-2021 ESEA Data Dashboard (Report card) will continue to publicly report general state assessment results for mathematics, English language arts, and science and will publicly report alternate assessment results for mathematics and English language arts. Maine is seeking a waiver from public reporting for the alternate science assessment only. Maine will continue to report the alternate science assessment results to parents through individualized student reports (ISRs).

Maine will continue to meet all other reporting requirements. Maine specifically requests a waiver from the public reporting of alternate science assessment performance only.

Sections impacted include:

  • Section 1111(b)(2)(B)(iv)
  • Section 1111(b)(2)(B)(xi) (disaggregation of alt. science data by subgroup)
  • Section 1111(h)(1)(A)
  • Section 1111(h)(2)(iii)

Impact to Student Achievement

There will be no impact to assessing student achievement as all eligible students will continue to participate in the alternate science assessment where applicable. The waiver will permit Maine to not publicly release student alternate science assessment achievement scores. The Maine Department of Education will only report participation rates related to the administration of the alternate assessment in grades 5, 8, and the third-year high school during the 2020 spring administration. Maine is committed to moving towards increased compliance with the assessment peer review for an alternate assessment.  During the 2021 spring assessment administration, Maine will participate in the MSAA on-line Operational alternate assessment.  Standard setting and post equating in the summer of 2021 would allow for reportable student achievement levels and scores that fall.

Monitoring

The Department will actively monitor the delivery of the paper-based assessment through an established monitoring process. Test administration will follow all test administration policies and protocols. Schools will be provided ISRs available for bulk download in order to share student performance with parents/guardians or caretakers.

 Continuity of Services to Students

The vendor for MSAA will provide  Expanded Performance Expectations (EPEs) based on the Next Generation Science Standards for grades 5, 8, and third-year high school.  Teachers will have an opportunity to begin implementing the EPEs during the 2019-2020 school year, in preparation for the on-line Operational Field Test in 2021.

 Public Comment

Maine has solicited public comment regarding a request for a waiver from public reporting. This public comment was announced through the Departments Newsroom, social media accounts and through relevant Listservs. Public comment was solicited between October 31st and November 29th, 2019 for a period of 30 days. A summary of comments and the Department’s response is attached with the waiver request. All comments, in support of or against the waiver request should be submitted to Janette Kirk at Janette.Kirk@maine.gov.

Timeline for Implementation

Date General Science Alternate Science
September 2019 Survey educators regarding science assessment modes
October 2019 Convene RFP Writing Team
November 2019 Develop contract for Science Alternate Assessment paper-based test (2020 administration) with MSAA.
December 2019 Execute Science Alt. Assessment contract with MSAA.
January 2020 Release general Science assessment RFP
Spring 2020 Administer MEA Science assessment Administer paper-based Alt. Science assessment
Summer 2020 Proposed award of general science contract
SY 2020-2021 Item Development
Spring 2021 Field test new general science assessment Implement operational field test of online assessment
Submit waiver for public reporting of science data Submit waiver for public reporting of alt. science data
Summer 2021 Completion of post equating and standard setting
SY 2021-2022 Item Development
Spring 2022 Field Test (year 2) Implementation of operational alt. assessment
Spring 2023 Operational assessment Operational alt. assessment (year 2)

Further information related to this notice can be obtained from Janette Kirk, Chief of Learning Systems at Janette.Kirk@maine.gov.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Mandatory Annual Notification of Eligibility for Schoolwide Programs

Updated annual notification of eligibility for schoolwide programs 

Schools that receive federal Title I funds, have poverty rates of at least 40 percent and have approved Title IA Schoolwide Plans are eligible to use their Title I funds – and funds from other sources – to develop “schoolwide programs.”

Schoolwide programs are comprehensive reform strategies, aimed at raising the achievement levels of all students.

To facilitate the inclusion of students with disabilities in schoolwide programs, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the federal regulations at 34 CFR §300.206(a) allow school administrative units to use a portion of the funds they receive under Part B of IDEA for any fiscal year to fund such schoolwide programs.

SAUs can use those funds, as long as students with disabilities receive the services to which they are entitled under their Individualized Education Programs and that are guaranteed under IDEA.

The amount of Part B funds a school expends for schoolwide programs cannot exceed the amount the SAU has received for that fiscal year, divided by the number of children with disabilities in that unit, multiplied by the number of children with disabilities participating in the schoolwide program.

For more information, contact Maine DOE’s Title I Coordinator Monique Sullivan at monique.sullivan@maine.gov, or Acting Director of Special Services Jan Breton at janice.breton@maine.gov.