Category Archives: Early Childhood

Public Preschool Annual Report due July 31

The Maine DOE is reminding school administrative units that have created or expanded a public preschool program within the past two years (2015-16 or 2016-17) to complete the Public Preschool Annual Report by July 31, 2017. The report can be found here 

This year’s report has been shortened to gather only the most pertinent information from Maine’s public preschool programs. 

Please note this report is not required from SAUs with programs existing prior to 2015 or those who completed the Public Preschool Application by the March 31 deadline.

If you have questions about the survey or to inquire if your SAU is required to complete it, please contact Maine DOE’s Early Childhood Program Monitor Nicole Madore at nicole.madore@maine.gov or at 624-6677.

Maine DOE recommendations for dyslexia screening

In accordance with 20-A M.R.S. §4710-B, the Maine Department of Education recommends universal screening for all K-2 children.  The law pertains to screening children K-2 for traits indicating that the child may be at-risk for difficulty learning to read, it is not a diagnostic assessment.  The intent is to identify at-risk children so that they may receive early evidence-based intervention known to help children with SLD/dyslexia.

 There is a list of suggested screening tools available on the Maine DOE website, along with other useful information about dyslexia, resources and frequently asked questions.

Maine Unified Special Education Regulations (MUSER) has long recognized dyslexia as a Specific Learning Disability [MUSER VII (2) (L)], consistent with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (20 U.S.C. 1401) and the Federal Regulations (34 CFR 300.8) which implement the IDEA Law. However, there has been confusion regarding the use of the term, dyslexia.  Consequently, in 2015 Michael Yudin, Assistant Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) issued a, “Dear Colleague” letter specifying that nothing in IDEA or the implementing regulations prohibits the inclusion of the condition that forms the basis for the child’s disability determination in the child’s IEP. https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/guidance-on-dyslexia-10-2015.pdf.

If you have further questions regarding dyslexia or 20-A M.R.S. §4710-B, please contact Lisa Whitis, MEd, JD, Maine DOE Dyslexia Coordinator at Lisa.Whitis@maine.gov or 624-6643.

 

Read to Ride Summer Reading Challenge

Summer vacation is a welcome break from the daily school routine for children and parents alike, but the summer months can be a significant interruption to students’ learning if young minds are not kept active while school is out of session. Summer learning loss is a well-documented phenomenon, particularly with respect to reading achievement. Students can lose up to three months of reading progress during the summer. When all of the summers in a child’s PK-8 school career are combined, this can result in 1-2 years of lost reading progress.

Fortunately, preventing the summer slide can be greatly reduced when students continue to read on a regular basis. When children are encouraged to read from a variety of resources for fun and the pleasure of learning, they continue to practice applying the skills they have learned, build their vocabulary and widen their knowledge of the world. For students who are not yet reading independently or just beginning to read, reading to and with them is equally beneficial.

In an effort to promote summer reading, the Maine Department of Education is collaborating with the Freemasons of Maine to sponsor the Read to Ride Summer Reading Challenge for students in grades PK-8. The 18,000 Freemasons of Maine are pleased to expand their popular statewide Bikes for Books student reading incentive program to now encourage children to read during the summer. The Bikes for Books program provides over 2,000 bikes to Maine schoolchildren each year to promote literacy. The Maine Freemasons have generously donated 48 bikes with helmets as prizes for the Read to Ride Summer Reading Challenge.

To earn a chance to be entered into the State level drawing, students must meet the challenge of reading at least 500 minutes during the summer vacation period. Any school with students in the PK-8 grade span may register to participate. Participating schools will collect documentation of students who have completed the challenge. They will hold school level drawings to select two students (one boy and one girl) whose names will be entered into the state level drawing to be held on September 22, 2017.  Schools are encouraged to participate in this challenge, to coordinate it with any other summer reading challenges/programs they offer and to consider soliciting their own local level prizes for students who complete the challenge. Details about the Read to Ride Challenge and about how principals can register schools can be found at: http://www.maine.gov/doe/literacy-for-me/summer-literacy.html. Please forward this information to your school principal to make them aware of this opportunity.

Questions may be directed to Maine DOE’s Literacy Specialist, Lee Anne Larsen, through email (leeann.larsen@maine.gov) or phone (624-6628).

PreK Grant Opportunity Funding for New PreK Programs

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) has a limited funding opportunity for School Administrative Units (SAU) interested in establishing a new PreK program in 2017-18. The Maine DOE has funding for up to five PreK Grants ranging from $22,000 to $52,000 a classroom. The purpose of the PreK grant is to expand high-quality PreK to children from families with moderate incomes.

The PreK Grant funding is not intended to fully fund the PreK program; there is a requirement for all subgrantees to provide at least a 60% local match to the federal funds. The grant’s funding level, combined with the SAUs local contribution, will ensure high quality PreK program standards and grant expectations are met and that the PreK program is sustainable after the grant closeout in December 2018. The PreK grants awarded in 2017-18 will continue, contingent on federal funding, through December 2018. This funding opportunity is part of the Maine DOE’s PreK Expansion Grant received in 2015. The grant’s absolute priority is to expand access to high-quality PreK to children with mid-range or lower incomes.

In grant year 1, the 2017-18 school year, the PreK grant could fund materials, equipment, furnishings and a portion of one year of operation of a pre-K program. SAUs must provide supplemental funding of 60% match. In grant year 2, 2018-19, funding will be provided through December 2018 and can cover a portion of the SAUs PreK program operating expenses.

Basic Requirements:

  • The PreK grant funds can be used to aid SAUs in starting a new PreK Program.
  • SAUs applying for grant funding must have at least a 50% district-wide free/reduced (F/R) lunch rate. FRL is 185% of Federal Poverty Level.
  • Priority enrollment must be given to children from families at 200% Federal Poverty Level and below.
  • The proposed PreK program must meet all public PreK program standards as required by the Maine Department of Education rules, Code of Maine Regulations (05-071 CMR Chapter.124.) Maine DOE Chapter 124.
  • SAUs must match federal funds – minimum of 60%.
  • Provide full day programming – 6 hours daily
  • Comprehensive Services offered to all families
  • Administer Kindergarten Entry Assessment as directed by Maine DOE’s PreK Grant.
  • Funding level a maximum $4,500 per eligible child + targeted funds for grant requirements. Only eligible children can be funded

The application deadline is April 30, 2017. PreK grant awards will be made by May 12, 2017.

For more information, contact Maine DOE PreK grant manager, Deb Lajoie at Deborah.j.Lajoie@maine.gov or call 207-624-6613

Guidance on general education interventions for public preschool children

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is providing this guidance to ensure that all Maine school administrative units (SAU) receive direction on general education interventions for public preschool children.

As required by Maine DOE rules, Code of Maine Regulations (05-071 CMR Chapter 101, II, 2015) all SAUs shall develop and implement general education interventions. It is the Department’s interpretation that these requirements are for all children enrolled in your SAU, including children in your public preschool program(s). The Maine DOE also expects that general education interventions are utilized prior to making a referral to Child Development Services (CDS) and that any general education intervention data is shared when making a referral to CDS.

For more information, please contact the Department’s Director of Special Services Janice Breton at janice.breton@maine.gov or 624-6676.

Maine seeks feedback on IDEA Part C – Family Cost Participation Policy

The Maine Department of Education is seeking comments from the public on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C Family Cost Participation Fee Policy which is used in relation to services for young children birth through age two with disabilities.

Maine is required to submit to the U.S. Department of Education a Family Cost Participation Fee Policy. The General Education Provisions Act requires that the State publish each proposed policy in a manner that will ensure circulation throughout the state at least 60 days prior to the date on which the policy is submitted or on which the policy becomes effective, with an opportunity for public comments to be accepted on the policy for at least 30 days.

The public, including superintendents, special education directors and CDS Regional Site Directors are encouraged to review the policy, which can be found at: http://www.maine.gov/doe/specialed/idea/index.html and submit comments.

Written comments will be accepted until 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 22, 2017. Please send comments to Roy Fowler at 23 State House Station; Augusta, ME 04333 or via email at roy.fowler@maine.gov .

PRIORITY NOTICE – Chapter 124: Public Preschool Program Standards effective 7/1/17

This Priority Notice is being resent – originally issued Jan. 5, 2017.

All School Districts with Public Preschool Programs Established before 2015-16

As you will recall, the Maine Department of Education Regulation, Chapter 124: Public Preschool Program Standards go into effect July 1, 2017 for all SAUs.  In order to ensure that your local child count in the public preschool program is included in the NEO system for the 2017-18 school year you will need to complete an application located at this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ExistingPublicPreK

The Maine DOE is asking all superintendents to complete this application (unless you are submitting an application for a new program or have had an application approved for the 2015-16 or 2016-17 school year).  The information included in the application will demonstrate how the district complies with the new standards and will collect data on potential challenges in aligning programs with Chapter 124 regulation.   This information will help the DOE determine the types of support that may be needed in order to assist districts in addressing these issues.

Please make sure you complete the entire application; at the end you will find a list of areas where you can indicate where there are alignment challenges for your preschool program. For more information please contact Sue Reed, Early Childhood Specialist, susan.d.reed@maine.gov  624-6632.

This application is due by March 31, 2017.

Maine seeks feedback on IDEA Part C application

Maine is seeking input on its application for the Part C (birth to three) early intervention program under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, known as IDEA. The Part C budget included in the application is for State Fiscal year 2018.

The General Education Provisions Act requires that the State publish each proposed annual application in a manner that will ensure circulation throughout the State at least 60 days prior to the date on which the plan is submitted to the Secretary of Education or on which date the plan is effective.

The public, including superintendents, special education directors and CDS Regional Site Directors are encouraged to review the application, which can be found at: http://www.maine.gov/doe/specialed/idea/index.html

Written comments will be accepted through April 19, 2017 and can be submitted to Roy Fowler: 146 State House Station; Augusta, ME 0433 or via email at roy.fowler@maine.gov .

 

Take the ‘Read to ME Challenge’

Augusta – Maine’s First Lady launched the Read to ME Challenge today at the Blaine House. Reflecting on how she and her husband, Governor Paul LePage, raised their children by reading to them and exploring the world through reading, Mrs. LePage shared, “I knew that when a child learns to read, there is nothing they can’t learn, imagine, or accomplish in life.”

First Lady Ann LePage reads to military children as she kicks off Maine's Read To Me Challenge

First Lady Ann LePage reads to children of military families as she kicks off Maine’s Read To Me Challenge

Reading to children of military families, the First Lady shared two books, Groovy Joe: Ice Cream and Dinosaurs and Baxter in the Blaine House, with her captive audience. Once the children studied the brilliant illustrations of the Blaine House, they were offered the chance to explore and see some of the rooms depicted in the story book. First Lady LePage challenged Brigadier General Douglas Farnum of the Maine National Guard.

Baxter in the Blaine House

Baxter in the Blaine House

The Maine DOE’s Read to ME Challenge runs through March 2, Read Across America Day. Maine DOE Literacy Specialist Lee Anne Larsen wants the momentum to last all month long. “Our goal is to promote the critical importance of reading to and with children from birth through their childhoods. When children are read to regularly, their vocabulary grows, they build knowledge of the world, they stimulate their imaginations, and they discover how words communicate ideas.”

The challenge is simple. Read with a child for at least 15 minutes, capture a photo or video, post it on social media with the hash tags #ReadtoME or #ReadaloudME, and nominate others to do the same. Creative ways of completing the challenge are encouraged – for example, read to a child using FaceTime or Skype. If preferred, you can complete the challenge by listening to audiobooks with a child.

“The enthusiasm has been building since before the launch with schools, libraries and other organizations planning innovative ways of promoting the challenge. All Mainers are encouraged to get involved,” said Larsen.

You can reach Lee Anne Larsen at leeann.larsen@maine.gov to learn more about Maine DOE’s Read to ME Challenge. Go ahead, take the challenge!

A message for superintendents in partnership with Head Start, child care and private preschool programs

To date, there has been some confusion around public preschool teachers with Conditional 081 Early Childhood Teacher Certification who have been hired and are employed by a partnering program-e.g. Head Start, child care and/or a private preschool. At this time, the Maine DOE Certification Office offers district leaders two choices:  1) The superintendent must sign the affidavit of Conditional Certification; OR 2) Only teachers with a professional 081 can be hired by the partnering agency.

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