Update about the launch of Synergy and Student Reports in NEO

As many of you are aware, the Maine Department of Education is in the process of launching a new student information system called Synergy, and also moving the reports formerly located in Infinite Campus into NEO Student Reports

As we diligently work through the development of the many new processes necessary to make these much-needed upgrades, we have run into some unexpected delays that are often inevitable when taking on such extensive system changes.

While previous communications stated that systems would be production ready in mid-August, the systems will not be fully functional in this time frame.

There is much work going on behind the scenes to get things ready in an accurate and timely manner. Please stay tuned to future Maine DOE Newsroom communications via the Maine DOE Update for further updates about the launch.

Once the system has launched, superintendents will receive login and password information for those they requested to have access to Synergy. NEO access does not need to be updated at this time.

In the meantime, please keep your local student information systems up to date and make sure to direct your system vendor to the upload files located on the help desk

Maine educators learn techniques in identifying and teaching children with dyslexia

IMG_0656 (2)Earlier this month, educators from around the state completed the six week graduate course, Introduction to Dyslexia. The course was offered through a partnership between the Maine Department of Education’s (DOE) Office of Special Services and the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF).

The online and in-class course introduced educators to current research in cognitive neuroscience and evidence- based teaching practices and how the two may interact to help children with dyslexia.

The class learned the benefits of early identification of students at-risk for reading failure. Through early screening, dyslexia can be predicted and the severity can be reduced using evidence-based intervention. Appropriate intervention brings the majority of at-risk children to grade-level reading levels. Presently, it cannot be predicted which children will respond to intervention. Additionally, early intervention reduces the risk of the difficult-to-remediate fluency deficit that often emerges in 4th grade.

After being introduced to concepts regarding the neuroscience of reading, the class took part in 3 full-day workshops to learn practical classroom techniques that work well for all learners.

The course was taught by Lisa Whitis, MEd, JD who serves as the Dyslexia Coordinator at the Maine DOE. Contact Ms. Whitis at Lisa.Whitis@Maine.Gov to discuss professional development opportunities for your district or technical assistance for issues regarding dyslexia.

Comment period open for the Science & Technology science standards

The Maine DOE is announcing an open comment period for the Science & Technology science standards.  This is the first phase of opening Maine Learning Results for Science & Technology only.

The initial public comment period will be followed by the convening of a science review committee to scrutinize comments and existing standards in an effort to revise and improve science standards.  The science review committee will eventually put forth recommendations for revised science standards to the Department.  The Department will then prepare final updates to regulations and hold a public hearing before provisional adoption of the revised science standards.  Finally, the legislature will act on the substantive rulemaking process prior to its preparation for final adoption.

The Department’s methodology will be consistent with the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) rulemaking requirements.  To review the current (2007) Maine Science & Technology Learning Results, click here then click on “Download Science and Technology Standards”.

Please send any comments to shari.templeton@maine.gov with SCIENCE STANDARDS in the subject line.  The public comment period will end September 10, 2017 at midnight EDT.


Reminder to Superintendents: Update District Assessment Coordinator (DAC) in NEO

Reminder to Superintendents: Update District Assessment Coordinator (DAC) in NEO

We are currently in the process of releasing and reviewing assessment results from the 2016-17 MEA test administration.  It won’t be long before we transition into sharing information about the upcoming 2017-18 test administration.

All critical communication about the MEA goes to the District Assessment Coordinator (DAC) listed as the Assessment Coordinator in the District Roles in NEO.  Please check the attached list to make sure that the DAC for your district(s) is current.

District Assessment Coordinator (DAC) listed in NEO as of 8/14/17 (PDF)

If the DAC is not current, that information should be updated in the District Roles Section on the certification page of the Staff Module of NEO.  If you need help with that, please contact the MEDMS Help Desk at 207-624-6896 or medms.helpdesk@maine.gov.

Purposeful Integration of Technology in Mathematics workshop for educators

The Maine Department of Education is sponsoring a workshop addressing Purposeful Integration of Technology in Mathematics for new and experienced math educators at Keeley’s Banquet Center on 178 Warren Ave in Portland on September 21, 8:30am – 3:30pm and at Jeff’s Catering, located at 15 Littlefield Rd. in Brewer on September 22, 8:30am – 3:30pm.

The workshop will consist of two all-day sessions, grades K-5 and grades 6-12. Pam Buffington, PhD, and Peter Tierney-Fife from Education Development Center (EDC) will present sessions for K-5 with Jenn Vadnais, a representative from Desmos presenting for the 6-12.

Registration to attend the above sessions closes September 6th, 2017. Please note, due to limited capacity, each district has the opportunity to register only ONE representative to a K-5 session and ONE representative to a 6-12 session. Educators interested in registering should utilize the appropriate registration link below:

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Keeley’s Banquet Center

178 Warren Ave,

Portland, ME 04103

Grades K-5 Registration

Grades 6-12Registration

Friday, September 22, 2017

Jeff’s Catering and Event Center

15 Littlefield Rd,

Brewer, ME 04401

Grades K-5 Registration

Grades 6-12 Registration

Further questions should be directed to Daniel Weeks, Title V Coordinator at Daniel.R.Weeks@maine.gov or (207) 624-6749.

Further information regarding session content and presenters is provided below.

Pam Buffington, PhD, is an education researcher and practitioner who specializes in technology integration in mathematics and science instruction. During a 35-year career, she has provided critical guidance to states, local education agencies, teachers, and administrators in investigating and implementing strategies to improve students’ learning outcomes.

Pam has been at the forefront of the classroom technology integration movement in New England and more broadly. She has led partnerships with both rural and urban school districts to improve student mathematics learning through the integration of interactive mobile technologies and has worked to expand access to high-quality virtual manipulatives and mathematics simulations. She also works to support researcher-practitioner partnerships, with an eye towards using evidence-based strategies to improve student outcomes in mathematics.

Peter Tierney-Fife works primarily on mathematics professional development and research projects. His expertise includes professional development materials creation and technical work such as applet and database development. He loves collaborating with teachers to improve student experiences with mathematics. His current projects focus on the areas of technology integration in mathematics and professional development for mathematics teachers with diverse student populations, including students who are English learners. Prior to working at EDC Peter taught middle school mathematics, was a Field Researcher for a technology-infused mathematics professional development research project, and was a carpenter and furniture maker.

Jenn Vadnais started out teaching in the Bath-Brunswick area. For her first year, she taught geometry at Morse High School in Bath and then spent 15 years teaching 8th grade at Brunswick Junior High School. In the summer of 2009, she relocated to Southern California with her family where she was hired as a 7th grade math teacher for Redlands Unified School District. In 2014, Jenn stepped out the classroom to become a Middle Level Math Coach for RedlandsUSD. During her time as a math coach, she was introduced to Desmos and was accepted into the first Desmos Fellow Cohort in 2016 and became a Desmos Certified Presenter in 2017. About the same time, Jenn switched positions to join her district’s brand new Instructional Technology Department as a k-12 Instructional Technology Coach.

K-5 Session Details:

During this session you will learn meaningful technology integration strategies and about digital tools for improving grades K-5 mathematics learning and teaching. Example tasks and related resources will concentrate on numeracy and the Standards for Mathematical Practices (particularly MP3, MP4, and MP5) aligned with the Maine’s College and Career Readiness Standards. We will focus on improving student mathematical communication and discourse while using digital devices in rich, open, problem-solving contexts. You will learn about interactive apps and Web sites with information and strategies, engage in the use of open tasks with the interactive apps, and reflect on and discuss the use of the digital tools and related resources. We will also discuss strategies and tools to manage student-created rich media artifacts such as screencasts and photos. You will leave with handouts and links to free digital resources suitable for use with students to enhance your classroom practice.

6-12 Session Details


Participants will experience how Desmos brings joy to vocabulary development through Polygraph. The focus of connecting informal and formal language will be discussed.

Level up your calculator skills

  1. Awesome Graphs. See what’s possible in the Desmos graphing calculator by exploring this collection of course-specific graphs for Grades 6-12.
  2. Desmos Calculator Scavenger Hunt. Level up your Desmos graphing skills by working through a series of beginner, intermediate, and advanced graphing challenges.

Activity Builder Lesson

The Activity Builder platform allows students to interact with, explore, reflect on and write about math. Participants will experience Desmos’ Activity Builder, including the Classroom Conversation Toolkit, as a student by diving into a rich mathematical situation. The Toolkit includes three features: Pause Activity, Anonymize and Teacher Pacing.


Participants will explore the connections between equations and graphs with Desmos’ Marbleslides activities.

Getting Started

Participants will set up a teacher.desmos.com account, turn on the lab feature which activates the Marbleslides and Card Sort options as well as, learn how to search, bookmark and edit premade activities.

Depending on time …

Introduction to Creating an Activity Builder

Participants will learn the basics of creating their own Activity Builder.

Reminder to send student IEPs to career and technical centers

As a reminder to all school administrative units, please send student records, including records pertaining to a student with a disability, to career and technical centers and to all schools which they are attending this year.

Sending the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) at the start of the school year will ensure that students with disabilities receive the instruction and related services on their IEPs and that teachers will have knowledge of those IEPs in accordance with the Maine Unified Special Education Regulations.

For more information please contact the Maine Department of Education, Office of Special Services at 624-6713.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Live Broadcast of 8/14 Hearing on Proposed Rule Chapter 134 (Regulations for Awarding a High School Diploma)

On Monday, August 14th, the Maine DOE is providing an opportunity to listen to the live public hearing of proposed rule Chapter 134 (Regulation for Awarding a High School Diploma) to anyone unable to attend the hearing from 9-11 AM in room 500 at the Cross State Office Building in Augusta.

Listen live on 8/14 at 9 am using this link: https://zoom.us/j/264310902

Written comments may also be submitted by 5pm on September 8, 2017 to the attention of Diana Doiron at diana.doiron@maine.gov or at Maine Department of Education, 23 State House Station, Augusta, ME  04333.

Pursuant to the rulemaking requirements in 20-A MRS §4722-A, Chapter 134 rule must address the following:

  • Allow flexibility and innovation at the school and district level for the development of consistent graduation standards.
  • Identify the manner in which multiple pathways in career and technical education can provide evidence of proficiency in the disciplines of the content areas and Guiding Principles of Maine’s system of learning results.
  • Establish criteria for the placement in career and technical education programs while ensuring all students are exposed to all content areas of the system of learning results.

For more information on proposed rule Chapter 134 and the diploma based on proficiency, contact Maine Department of Education Proficiency-Based Education Specialist, Diana Doiron at diana.doiron@maine.gov

New School Nurse Orientation registration is open

If you hired a new nurse for your school over the summer be sure to encourage them to attend the New School Nurse Orientation on September 29th in Augusta.

New School Nurse Orientation is a specialized program designed to help nurses transition into the educational setting. Some of the topics included in day one will be: professional requirements, resources, overview of the School Health Manual, data reporting requirements for nurses, screening requirements and procedures as well as educational rules and laws. There will be two more days covering different topics for new School Nurses scheduled later in the school year.

When: September 29, 2017 8am – 3pm
Where: Augusta, ME Burton Cross Office Building
Cost: FREE
How to register: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NewSchoolNurseOrientation1

If you have any questions please contact Emily Poland, RN, School Nurse Consultant for the Maine Department of Education at 207-624-6688 or Emily.poland@maine.gov.

Maine teachers learn about agriculture

Maine Agriculture in the Classroom Summer Institute participants enjoy a final group gathering outside their classroom at the University of Maine at FarmingtonJuly 31st through August 4th, 23 educators grades K-12, along with other participants at the Maine Agriculture in the Classroom (MAITC) Summer Institute, hosted at the University of Maine, learned how to incorporate information on Maine agriculture into their classrooms.

(Pictured above: Maine Agriculture in the Classroom Summer Institute participants enjoy a final group gathering outside their classroom at the University of Maine at Farmington)

Through local farm tours and creative lesson plans, educators gained additional insights into agriculture and its importance to the Maine economy and to Maine’s rich culture and history, as well as how to connect agriculture with the academics they teach at their home schools.

Bonnie Brown instructs teachers about growing flowers at Shaky Barn Farm Gardens in Livermore(Pictured left: Bonnie Brown instructs teachers about growing flowers at Shaky Barn Farm Gardens in Livermore.)

The Summer Institute was supported in part through the proceeds from Maine’s Agricultural license plate.  Farm tours in the Farmington area included a goat/cheese farm, sheep/wool farm, apple orchard, dairy farm, flower nurseries and other exciting highlights.

Participants left with not only an increased appreciation for the role and work of the Maine farmer, but also with many ideas on how to impart agricultural information to their students in the coming year.

(Pictured below: Teachers enjoy the dairy goats at York Hill Farm in New Sharon.)

Teachers enjoy the dairy goats at York Hill Farm in New SharonFor more information on Maine Agriculture in the Classroom and training/grant opportunities available to teachers, please contact Willie Sawyer Grenier, Executive Director, Maine Agriculture in the Classroom, maitc@maine.gov  (207) 287-5522  www.MaineAgintheClassroom.org



Changes to the Maine Unified Special Education Regulations (M.U.S.E.R.)

Changes to the Maine Unified Special Education Regulations, Birth-20, (M.U.S.E.R.) will go into effect on August 25, 2017. Until that date, schools should continue to use existing procedures for the identification of children with a specific learning disability.

Chapter 101 (Section VII.2.L) and pertaining to the identification of children with specific learning disabilities was amended to require:

  1. the inclusion of general education intervention data under Section III of the rule when the IEP team uses a process based on the child’s response to scientific, research-based interventions and,
  2. the inclusion of  psychological processing data from standardized measures to identify contributing factors.

These changes will affect any child’s evaluation that begins on or after August 25, 2017.

The Specific Learning Disability Eligibility Form that is used in the process of identifying children with specific learning disabilities will also change on August 25, 2017.

Please check the Maine DOE website at http://www.maine.gov/doe/specialed/forms/ for more information or contact the Maine Department of Education, Office of Special Services at 624-6713.