Using Assessment to Strengthen Instruction in English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science, K-8

As part of its 2018-19 Assessment Literacy series, the Maine Department of Education will present full-day workshops to continue supporting educators in examining eMPower ELA and math, and MEA science assessment data, connecting that data with locally generated assessment information, and identifying high impact instructional strategies that foster student engagement and achievement of learning standards.

State level assessment provides school systems with a useful lens through which educators can evaluate the effectiveness of curricula and instructional practices. This information can help educators improve programming to increase the number of students meeting expectations for learning standards in English language arts (ELA), mathematics, and science. The availability of released item data and sample state assessment items, coupled with local level assessment information, enables educators to dig more deeply into what instructional practices are benefiting student learning as well as where adjustments could be made to result in greater positive impact.

Join Maine DOE ELA, Math, and Science specialists as they provide professional learning and resources that:

  • Connect state eMPower and science assessment to instructional practices
  • Delve into the roles cognitive demand and stamina play in instruction and assessment
  • Explore protocols for linking state level data analysis with local level data analysis

Participants will select one of 3 content areas in which to focus their learning during the day: English language arts, mathematics or science.  Schools are strongly encouraged to register teams of 3 so that they will have representation in each of the 3 featured content areas. An alternate option is for educators to come as a team representing one content area (e.g. science teachers from a middle school).  Time will be provided during the day for teams to share their learning across content areas and to collaboratively plan for how to disseminate the day’s content back in their respective schools. Lunch will be provided during each full day session which will run 8:30 am – 3:30 pm. Contact hours will be provided.

Cost is $40 per individual or $100 per 3-person team. Registration requires a credit card.  

Workshop Locations/Registration Links Workshop Dates
Keeley’s Banquet Center, Portland January 15, 2019
Snow Date: February 1, 2019
Jeff’s Catering, Brewer January 24, 2019
Snow Date: January 31, 2019
University of Maine at Presque Isle January 29, 2019
Snow Date: January 30, 2019

For further information, please contact Lee Anne Larsen, Acting Deputy Director of the Office of Learning Systems at 207-624-6628 or

Resources to Support the Observance of Alcohol Awareness Day

Alcohol is the most frequently used substance by adolescents in Maine. Almost one of every four Maine high school students used alcohol in the past 30 days, and more than one third of those students reported binge drinking (2017 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey). Alcohol consumption by students is impacted by factors such as low perception of harm, low perception of getting caught, and ease of access.

Schools and community organizations are encouraged to work together to address alcohol issues. In alignment with Maine statute, schools across Maine can raise awareness about alcohol use and abuse by observing Alcohol Awareness Day on Monday, December 3 (or another designated day in December). The statute indicates Alcohol Awareness Day shall be observed by studying for at least 45 minutes, a constructive approach toward the use of alcohol and the problems and dangers of alcohol abuse upon the individual, the family and society.

Consider using one or more of the following resources to prepare a message or lesson to enhance your existing health education curriculum:

It is important for Maine students to receive education and awareness about alcohol, tobacco and other drug use as part of comprehensive school health education, Pre-K through High School, and in alignment with the Maine Learning Results: Parameters for Essential Instruction, Health Education StandardsSelecting Evidence-Based Substance Use Prevention Programs: A Guide for Maine Schools Grades K-12 may help determine the most appropriate program for a school community.

There is also a guide to help schools create, update, and enforce a substance use policy. The guide, “Substance Use Policy: A Comprehensive Guide for School Policy Development provides practical suggestions for a complete policy, based on research and best practices.

For assistance or additional resources, contact the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Tobacco and Substance Use Prevention and Control Program at 287-8901, TTY 711 or email:  You can order a limited quantity of free alcohol use prevention pamphlets through the Prevention Store

Webinar: Adverse Childhood Experiences, Education and the Workforce

The Maine School Councilor Association (MESCA) is sponsoring a free professional development webinar called, Adverse Childhood Experiences, Education And The Workforce: Building Resilience In Students. Please find the details below.

Description: National statistics tell us that if a child has experienced 4 or more adverse life events, they are 32 times more likely to have behavior problems in school. There is increasing evidence that early life stressors, such as abuse and/or witnessing intimate partner violence, cause enduring brain dysfunction that, in turn, affects health and quality of life throughout the lifespan. The “stress response” can cause the areas of a student’s brain that control fear to become over developed, overpowering other areas of the brain that are required for positive academic learning. Adverse experiences have the power to undermine the development of language skills, attention to classroom tasks, and the ability to remember new information.

The good news is the presence of a supportive adult or environment provides a powerful buffer to students from the intense stress or anxiety that may occur when they are exposed to violence and trauma. This workshop will introduce participants to the impacts of exposure to adverse experiences, will offer examples of how and why this impact manifests itself as behaviors, and will share resilience building strategies.

Presenter: Allegra Hirsh-Wright, LCSW, RYT, Training Manager/Project Coordinator for Department of Clinical Innovation, Maine Behavioral Healthcare

Webinar Date & Time: December  20, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Register here:

This free professional development webinar sponsored by the Maine School Councilor Association (MESCA) will be recorded and stored on the Reach Higher Maine Google Classroom.

PRIORITY NOTICE: MEA Released Items and Individual Student Reports Available

The Maine Department of Education in collaboration with school districts and schools have verified their 2018 Maine Educational Assessments (MEA) results data within the Maine Assessment and Accountability Reporting System (MAARS). All data in the confidential (login credentials needed), and public sites is now available. Individual Student Reports (ISRs) are also available to districts to download.

This year to support Maine educators, the Department is excited to be able to release items from the math, English language arts (ELA) and science assessments at each grade level in which students in grades 3 – 8 take state assessments. School and district users will also be able to incorporate the released item data in their analysis of student performance. Data regarding district, school and individual student responses to released items are available the confidential MAARS site within Interactive Reports. The actual pdf versions of the released items are available on the site.

Elements for release include:

  1. The student versions consist of one item booklet per grade, 3-8, that contains each assessed content area (Math, Reading, Writing/Language, Essay).
  2. The associated teacher versions consist of one document per grade, 3-8, that contains each assessed content area and which include:
  • Items as seen on student version
  • Standard alignment notation
  • Answer key
  • Scoring rubrics where applicable
  • Scorer training notes and annotations
  • Exemplary responses where applicable
  • Sample student responses
  • Table of released item information

As a reminder to those who registered, the Department will be using these materials during the scheduled workshops to assist educators in navigating MAARS, examining their data, and linking it to instructional practice.

Further questions can be directed to Janette Kirk, Acting Director, Office of Learning Systems at

Love to Code: STEAM Professional Learning Workshop – Register by 11/16

Maine educators are invited to participate in a professional learning workshop that supports the integration of technology across multiple content areas with a focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) as well as computer science, coding, and computational thinking. By using arts and craft techniques to teach circuits and programming, the workshop will introduce ways to engage learners of diverse backgrounds and interests in designing and building their own technologies and getting excited about STEAM!

During the workshop, educators will:

  • Engage in activities that can be used in classrooms with students who are learning STEAM, coding, and computational thinking concepts
  • Explore techniques that blend craft and code: students can use skills they have (crafting) to learn new skills (coding), offering new pathways to coding for students who find traditional pathways to learning code less accessible
  • Learn how to develop integrated learning opportunities, where the technology is used in service of the learning (instead of as the focus of the learning).
  • Understand how to create and foster a sense of wonder (instead of fear) when students try something new and somewhat challenging

The workshop will be led by a team from Chibitronics that has created Love to Code, an electronics and coding toolkit that gets students building circuits and coding in an art-friendly, hands-on way.  Students will learn to build and program functioning circuitry within the pages of a picture book and then take these skills to design their own paper circuits (sample paper circuit projects). Students can then program a “Chibi Chip” to control their art work, making interactive artwork that comes to life with code!

Love to Code’s innovative features include a:

  • Picture book format, which teaches complex coding concepts by embedding them in metaphor and story;
  • Blend of craft and code, which allows learners to use skills they already have (crafting) as they learn new skills (coding).

Learn more about the presenters and see some of their projects, Jie Qi and Natalie Freed.

Event Information:

  • Date: Saturday, December 1st, 2018
  • Time: 8:30am – 3:30pm
  • Location: RiSE Center, University of Maine, Orono
  • Contact Hours: 8 hours can be earned
  • Cost: $15 (includes light breakfast, lunch, and Love To Code Kit)
  • Register here

Please bring a laptop or tablet with you to the event. In order to program the Chibi Chips, devices need to have a headphone port available. This might require you to bring an adapter/dongle depending on your device.

Draft Agenda:

  • 8:00am: Registration and light breakfast
  • 8:30am: Welcome, Introductions, and Connections
  • 9:00am: Jie Qi and Natalie Freed– “From Make Believe to Making Tech: Paper Circuits and Programming”
  • 10:00am: Break
  • 10:15am: Learning with the Love to Code Kits
  • 11:45am: Lunch – includes a networking activity
  • 12:45pm: Expectations and goals for afternoon design and creation time
  • 1:15pm: Design and Create: Make what you’ll take back to your school – workshop for colleagues, unit or lesson with students, etc
  • 3:00pm: Wrap up, reflections, connecting forward

For answers to questions or more information, please contact Amanda Nguyen, Digital Learning Specialist for the Maine Department of Education at