PRIORITY NOTICE: Educational Technician certification renewal date extended to July 1, 2018

As many of you are aware, Maine Department of Education (DOE) Commissioner Robert G. Hasson, Jr. approved a one-year extension for all certificates with an expiration date of July 1, 2017.  Those impacted teachers, educational specialists, and administrators with certificates that would have expired on July 1, 2017, now have an expiration date of July 1, 2018.

The 2018 extension will also be applied to Educational Technicians whose expiration date is February 1, 2018.  Those impacted Educational Technicians will now have an expiration date of July 1, 2018.

The purpose for this extension is to allow the Department of Education time to implement the new online certification system.  The new online system is currently in the security testing phase and is being used by Department staff before launching to select pilot schools. Staff have already created great efficiencies; however extra time is needed to ensure all security requirements have been met.

To track further progress of the online certification system, please visit the Maine DOE Certification webpage.

To check your certification and/or administrative credentialing status please visit the NEO Portal.

For further questions, contact the Certification office at (207) 624-6603 or cert.doe@maine.gov.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Extended due date for graduation and dropout reporting set for 1/19/18

The Department of Education has extended the due date for the graduation and dropout report to January 19, 2018. The updated NEO module is ready and districts can begin entering data on December 20, 2017.

All public, charter, and 60% publicly funded districts (even those districts without schools) will gain access to the graduation module in NEO on December 20, 2017 and will have access to complete the graduation and dropout report through January 19, 2018.

Please note that along with the “attending district” reporting requirements there are now “responsible district” reporting requirements as well. This is because there are new federal reporting requirements that prompted a change to the Maine DOE’s Graduation and Dropout report. Because of this change, there will be multiple districts that are required to submit these reports for the first time. If your district has never completed this report, be sure to check DC & R to see if it is now required.

Instructions and assistance for completing this report:

  • The reports can be accessed through DC & R or through NEO directly.
  • Login issues: If you can log in to NEO but do not see the graduation tab or if you find that you cannot login; you will need a NEO access request form to be filled out and then signed by the superintendent. Send completed forms to the MEDMS help desk.
  • If you need assistance with the graduation reports or have questions you may email Travis Wood, or call 624-6742; or email Leda Cunningham, or call 624-6816.

For other questions about NEO or the Graduation module contact Maine DOE Help Desk at MEDMS.Helpdesk@maine.gov or 207-624-6896.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Guidance for part I applications for regional service centers

The Maine Department of Education today released guidance concerning the establishment of regional service centers (School Management and Leadership Centers), informed by the 23 applicants who submitted part I conceptual proposals by the November 30, 2017 deadline.

In the letter sent to applicants, Commissioner Hasson reflects on the collaborative efforts involved in reaching this important milestone:

“While this marks only a first step in a multi-year journey to establish robust regional service centers, it is an important step, and represents many hours of hard work and local leadership,” wrote Commissioner Hasson. “Neither I nor my colleagues at the Maine Department of Education take this for granted, and we acknowledge the many emotions that accompany an undertaking of this nature. The emotions that I wish to convey today are gratitude, encouragement, and hope.”

Among the guidance issued by the Department were:

  • Determinations for 10 geographic areas, with guidance that more than one regional service center may be formed in each area;
  • Clarification on the state subsidy that will be available to each school administrative unit (SAU) that joins a successfully established regional service center; and
  • Feedback to each applicant including a determination as to whether each applicant met the minimum criteria to be considered as a regional service center for the 2018-19 school year and specific commentary and suggestions.

A copy of the general guidance is available at: Regional Service Center Part I Letter and Guidance.

The individual letters that include the specific feedback and determination in section VI will be posted to the EMBRACE Regionalization Information Center on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 in order to give applicants time to review and share with their proposed members the individual feedback and determination before posting by the Department.

For further questions about the EMBRACE Regionalization initiative contact Jennifer Pooler at Jennifer.G.Pooler@maine.gov.

PRIORITY NOTICE: Two important updates; reporting delay and urgent Title V eligibility verification

The following priority notice contains two important notices for districts.

1. Urgent Title V eligibility verification

To align the Title V (Rural Education Achievement Program -REAP) Grant timeline to other Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Federal Programs, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) has revised data collection and submission dates with a more aggressive timeline. This revision will allow Title V (REAP) Federal funds to be awarded to states on July 1 of each program year.

Each individual school district must verify their data and contact Daniel Weeks (Daniel.R.Weeks@maine.gov), Title V Coordinator of any inaccurate data by December 6th.

Several districts have yet to provide complete Average Daily Attendance (ADA) data. These gaps directly affect funding for ALL Title V grants (Small Rural Schools Achievement (SRSA) and the Rural Low-Income Schools (RLIS)). Please review your data carefully.

We realize that the turnaround time is very limited, and for that we apologize. Initial communication from the USDOE was received on November 21, 2017, which provided Maine DOE minimal time to collect and compile the necessary information into a single tangible spreadsheet. This spreadsheet must now be reviewed by school districts for accuracy.  Each individual school district must verify their data and contact Daniel Weeks (Daniel.R.Weeks@maine.gov), Title V Coordinator of any inaccuracies by December 6th.

The data to be reviewed can be located here:  http://www.maine.gov/doe/rural/

Please verify the following data elements:

  • Column M (Average Daily Attendance)
  • Column Q (Alternate Poverty Data for districts with a population of less than 20,000)
  • Column S (FY17 Title II A Award)
  • Column T (FY17 Title IV A Award)

Please note:

Column M (ADA) directly affects funding for ALL Title V grants (SRSA and the RLIS).

Column Q (Alt. Poverty Data) directly affects eligibility and funding for the RLIS Grant.

Column S & T (Title IIA and IVA Awards) directly affect funding for the SRSA Grant.

For further questions or concerns please contact Daniel Weeks, Title V Coordinator at (207) 624-6749 or Daniel.R.Weeks@maine.gov.

2. Graduation and Dropout Reporting dates further delayed

On November 20th the Department issued a notice announcing that the due date for Graduation and Dropout Reporting was extended to December 21st. The Department has just learned that the data needed prior to launching the updated Graduation and Dropout reporting module in NEO is not yet available. The NEO module went through an update to fulfill federal reporting regulations and the Department is not willing to launch the updated module before running test scenarios to ensure product quality.

The Department hopes to learn early next week when the data will be available. The Department has notified the federal government of this delay and will issue a new reporting timeline when information is confirmed.

The Department is aware of the angst that this second delay may cause. We assure you our teams are doing everything in our power to get efficient and accurate data systems operative and available for district reporting.

For further questions contact the Maine DOE Helpdesk. Further updates will be forthcoming through the Maine DOE Newsroom.

Priority Notice: Maine DOE seeks assessment waiver

The following notice was sent to Superintendents, District Assessment Coordinators and Special Education Directors on November 30, 2017.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), limits the percentage of students assessed using an alternate assessment to no more than one percent (1%) of the total number of students assessed in the state.

The Maine DOE and Maine’s special education directors have steadily been working toward this goal through trainings about criteria and reviews of student data.  As a result, Maine’s percentage of tested students who participate in the alternate assessment is steadily decreasing.  However, in 2016-17, the percentage remains greater than 1%.  While we are working to meet the 1% statewide limit on the 2017-18 test administration, we are not certain that we will reach that target.

Therefore, the Maine DOE will request a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education from the requirements of 34 C.F.R. §200.6(c)(4), that limit the allowable percentage to no more than 1%.  The waiver request will provide: (1) data regarding progress toward the 1% expectation, (2) documentation of our increased efforts in implementing the guidance criteria, and (3) justification for Maine’s current alternate participation rate.

The Proposed USED 1% Waiver request is now available for review and public comment. Individuals and organizations may submit written comments on the proposed waiver request pursuant to 34 C.F.R.§200.6(c)(4) through December 14, 2017.

Questions and/or comments may be directed to Charlene Tucker, Director of Assessment, at charlene.tucker@maine.gov.

 

PRIORITY NOTICE: Proposed changes for Certification and PEPG Rules; Hearings on Dec. 27

As part of the Maine Department of Education’s efforts to streamline certification processes for Maine educators; align certification rules with current statute; and ensure that new and conditionally certified teachers have access to high quality peer support, the Department is proposing revisions to Rule Chapter 180: Performance Evaluation and Professional Growth Systems, revisions Rule Chapter 115: Certification Authorization and Approval of Educational Personnel; and repeal of Chapter 118: Purposes, Standards and Procedures for Educational Personnel Support Systems.

Find the details for proposed changes for Rule Chapters 115, 118, and 180 on the Maine DOE Website. Provided below are hearing dates, details about the comment period and highlights about the proposed changes.

Hearing for Rule Chapters 115 and 118:
December 27, 2017 from 12:00 – 2:00 PM.
Room 103 A and B in the Cross State Office Building, 111 Sewall Street, Augusta, Maine
Comment periods:
Chapter 115 Proposed Section 14: November 17, 2017 – December 18, 2017
Full revisions for Chapter 115 and Rule Chapter 118: December 6, 2017 – January 18, 2018

Hearing for Rule Chapter 180:
December 27, 2017 from 2:00 – 3:00 PM.
Room 103 A and B in the Cross State Office Building, 111 Sewall Street, Augusta, Maine
Comment period:
Rule Chapter 180: December 6, 2017 – January 18, 2018.

Comments can be submitted to Jaci Holmes at jaci.holmes@maine.gov

Highlights:

Chapter 180
Some of the more significant changes are contained in a new Section (11): Peer Support and Feedback, and accomplish the following:

  1. Retain a peer level of peer support and feedback for all teachers and principals.
  2. Establish a mentor/coach component for all newly hired and conditionally certified teachers.
  3. Differentiate peer support requirements to provide greater support for new and conditionally certified teachers.
  4. Provide greater, more structured support for conditionally certified special education teachers.
  5. Provide the SAU with flexibility in establishing mentor and coach qualifications as well as assigning mentors and coaches to better target educator needs.
  6. Sharpen the line between peer support components and evaluation components

Chapter 115
The Department has updated the rules consistent with recent statutory changes and removed redundancy and unnecessary language. The format is being refined to be clear and concise. In brief, the following are some of the more significant changes:

  • Consolidates the number of credentials available to three: a clearance, a certificate, and a conditional certificate.
  • Eliminates Rule Chapter 118: Education Personnel Support System. Rather than having two different support systems under two different rules, there will just be one under Rule Chapter 180. Also, some aspects of Rule Chapter 118 will be merged into Rule Chapter 115.
  • Creates a pathway to become a teacher based on work experience. A person will be able to use work experience to address knowledge areas that are required for an endorsement.
  • Refines and reformats the rule to be more logical and sequential. There has been confusion about sections of the rule and this should help to make it more clear and efficient.
  • Part I will be repealed and replaced, Part II will be revised in legislative format

Chapter 115 (Regarding Administrative Hold)
This rule creates a category within Section 14 of Chapter 115, Part I for Administrative Hold. The agency proposed rule would require all credential holders to provide the Department with an address at which the Department may contact them with respect to their credential. An administrative hold will be used in cases where information about certified individuals comes to the attention of the Department and the Department contacts the credential holder at the address on file and receives no response.  In those situations, the Department will place the credential on administrative hold until such time as the holder responds. Emergency Rulemaking for Chapter 115 (Regarding Administrative Hold) went into effect November 20, 2017.

 

PRIORITY NOTICE: Deadline for Part I Application for Regional Service Centers is November 30

As a reminder, the deadline for school administrative units to submit the Part I Application for a Regional Service Center (i.e. School Management and Leadership Centers) is November 30, 2017.

The short online Part I Application is conceptual in nature and does not take long to complete. Part I must be submitted online by the close of business on Nov. 30, 2017. Districts that take part in completing and submitting Part I as proposed members are not obligated to be part of a Regional Service Center but, if submitted by November 30, Part I of the application will allow the Department to budget for those members accordingly.

The Part II Application, which is due by April 15, 2018, includes specific information related to the structure and governance of the service center; the purposes, functions, programs and services to be provided by the service center; how any savings resulting from the formation of the service center will be used; and a copy of the proposed interlocal agreement.

Part I Online Application: https://mainedoe.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cMahjxe4SEnyp1j

For more information about Regional Service Centers and the Department’s other regionalization initiatives, visit the EMBRACE Regionalization Information Center or contact Jennifer Pooler at Jennifer.G.Pooler@maine.gov.