Special Education Forms Update

Based on the periodic review and feedback from a stakeholder group of practitioners in the field, The Maine Department of Education’s Office of Special Services, has revised only a few required forms for special education. Specifically, the IEP form, the adverse effect form, and the optional referral form have been revised; all vendors have been notified of these changes.  A complete list of all forms is available on our website. All changes on the revised forms go into effect August 1, 2019.

  1. Below are the detailed changes to the IEP form:
      • Section 1: the effective date of the IEP has been changed to duration of the IEP, allowing for range (beginning and ending dates)
      • Section 2: in the disability box, multiple disabilities used to require a list of concomitant disabilities. The revised version requires that all concomitant disabilities be checked.
      • Section 3: the considerations section no longer requires a statement as to where the issue is addressed in the IEP.
      • Section 3: question B – the two questions that were listed under question B are now combined into one question, still in the same location.
      • Section 3: question D now has an option of N/A
      • Section 3: question J – same as question B
      • Section 4: changes in the arrangement of previously required information.
      • Section 4: strengths and needs and effect on child’s involvement have been placed in a new block and are no longer in the goals section
      • Section 5: now includes only present level measurable goal, objectives and progress; the CDS (3-5) section was eliminated; all CDS goals go in the Measurable Functional Goals section.
      • Section 6B: Alternate Assessment: now has an option of N/A
      • Section 9: the post-secondary transition plan has not been changed but looks different on the form because of the change from landscape to portrait orientation.

2.  The adverse effect form was revised to add demographic information; this is now a stand-alone form.  In addition, the reason for use of the form was updated to identify initial or continuing eligibility/dismissal.  The remainder of the form is unchanged.

3.  The optional referral form was revised to include more options for Tier 1 interventions, and blocks were added to provide additional Tier 1 interventions in the areas of Speech/Language, Modifying Time Demands, Modifying Assignments and Tests, and Maintaining Focus and Appropriate Behaviors.

The updated Procedural Manual will be posted on the Office of Special Services website by September 1, 2019.

For more information or assistance, please contact Roberta Lucas, Federal Programs Coordinator at 624-6621 or Roberta.lucas@maine.gov

Maine Reaches Federal Milestone in Special Education

Maine is proud to be one of 20 other states in the nation to meet federal requirements for serving the needs of children with disabilities. This rigorous effort was led by the Maine Department of Education (DOE) Office of Special Services.

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), states are required to report each year to the US Department of Education regarding their progress in meeting “measurable and rigorous targets” to serve students with disabilities. This determination is based on how well schools address the needs of children with disabilities. As part of the review process, Maine and other states were evaluated based on several factors, including student performance and fulfilling IDEA’s procedural requirements.

Members of the Special Services Team at the DOE have been hard at work to partner with and support schools to ensure the quality of education for disabled students in Maine continues to improve. Their strategy has been to identify areas where the state has struggled and use targeted professional development and collaboration with district administrators and teachers to improve those areas. Child Development Services has also been utilized to enhance support for children with disabilities from birth to the age of five. As part of a broader Department-wide effort, this strategy has helped to further emphasize student support and achievement.

One, among many other, contributing factors for the 2019 review, was the increased amount of Maine students with disabilities who participated in standardized testing compared to the previous year. The state receives full points from the federal government if at least 90% of students with disabilities participate in standardized testing.

“We’ve been working really hard to make sure the Department is providing the support needed to help schools improve their practices with children with disabilities,” said Jan Breton, Acting Director of the Office of Special Services. “It takes a strong team of people, both here at the Department and in the field, to make sure that our State is meeting these requirements,” she added.

The commitment and collaboration of students, families, educators, and the Maine DOE has enabled Maine to meet requirements by several percentage points. Additionally, the support and guidance that enables students with disabilities to make smooth transitions from secondary school to post-graduation living has also improved, and the dropout rate for students with disabilities has decreased. With more Maine students receiving their diplomas, these young people can expect improved employability and a wider spread of higher education options after high school.

This milestone gives the Department the opportunity to refocus efforts on collaborative and student-focused growth, as well as areas in which Maine has not yet scored full points as part of the requirements. One example is around the team’s efforts to improve the state’s federal ratings for math scores through the Math4ME program. This program is grounded in hands-on activities and interactive professional learning experiences that allow participants to gain a deeper understanding of core concepts of mathematics and strategies. The program focuses on students with disabilities in grades 3-8.

Maine’s special education professionals are passionate and dedicated in their daily work to improve the lives and outcomes of children with disabilities. With our strong team of professionals here at the Maine DOE and our valuable partnerships with educators, administrators, families, and stakeholders statewide, we hope to continue our important work toward ongoing growth, improvement, and alignment in special education in our state.

Next Think Tank Scheduled for September 30!

In the ongoing effort to engage with all stakeholders, the Department of Education will hold its next Think Tank at the Schoodic Institute in Winter Harbor on September 30.  Participants can choose  from four topics, and can attend morning or afternoon sessions only on one topic, or attend both sessions and discuss two topics! Topics include special education, defining school success, educator excellence (recruiting and retaining) and MLTI.  Lunch will be provided, and the think tank is FREE, however we do ask for participants to register, for planning purposes.  Please see the Registration Link for more information and to register. We look forward to hearing from you!

Preparing to Educate Students who Are English Learners- Reviewing Lau Plans

As schools prepare for the 2019-2020 academic year, the Maine Department of Education would like to offer its support to help educators proactively plan effective programs for students who are English learners (ELs). Each year many new families arrive to Maine over the summer, or transfer from one Maine district to another. When school enrollment begins in the fall, districts may enroll a student who is an EL for the first time or may experience an increase in the number of students who are ELs as compared to last school year. The following suggestions and resources can help educators prepare to identify and serve students who are ELs and engage their families and communities.

The first step in preparing to serve students who are ELs is to have an up-to-date, board-approved Lau Plan, which is essentially the district’s road map, detailing how it meets federal and state policies for English learners. “Lau” refers to a 1974 US Supreme Court decision, Lau v. Nichols, that confirmed the rights of English learners to meaningfully access their education. In other words, Lau v. Nichols established that students who are English learners must be provided with English language acquisition support to enable them to meet the same challenging academic standards that other students are expected to meet. All districts are required to have a Lau Plan as part of the school approval process. To help districts create a thorough, well-crafted Lau Plan, the Maine Department of Education provides the Lau Plan Template and Guidance.

Staffing an effective program for students who are ELs is another key step. However, it is often difficult for districts to predict the coming school year’s count and the intensity of each student’s needs in order to plan staffing accordingly. Staffing must be responsive to student needs; the level of services that students are provided should not be determined by current staffing. Because of this, districts may find themselves in need of more teachers than anticipated. In such cases, the Maine Department of Education offers to share job postings with English for Speakers of Other Languages(ESOL) educators and to connect districts with qualified consultants in the region, whom districts may then screen and hire through their standard processes.

It is recommended to designate a staff member to manage the process for identifying students who are ELs, including administration of English language proficiency screening assessments. Also, having an existing staff member become (660) ESOL-endorsed is a proactive way to ensure readiness, should any students who are ELs enroll unexpectedly.

For information regarding Maine’s requirements for providing services to students who are ELs, please see the resource and policy guide, Serving Maine’s English Learners. For further assistance, please contact April Perkins, Director of ESOL/Bilingual Programs & Title III, at april.perkins@maine.gov.

Public Preschool Annual Report Due July 31, 2019

We are grateful to our school districts who are addressing the need for public preschool programming in their communities, and we are committed to fostering partnerships and increasing early intervention and educational opportunities for our youngest learners. As you are likely aware, all public preschool programs are required to complete the Public Preschool Annual Report. We have shortened the report for ease of use, and the Department of Education will refer to the data collected throughout the year to help inform policy, determine professional development needs, and provide follow up information or support.

The Public Preschool Annual report is now available  and is due to the Department no later than close of business on July 31, 2019.

Before you start the survey, it will be useful to have the following information readily available:

  • Information related to staff turnover
  • Program operation:
    • Number of hours per day
    • Number of days per week
    • Any major changes to the program, including, but not limited to:
      • partners
      • curriculum
      • location
    • Successes/challenges experienced over the course of the year
    • Student attendance-
      • number economically disadvantaged
      • number chronic absenteeism
      • transient students
    • Students identified for additional support:
      • English Learners- screening process
      • Individualized Education Plan (IEP) information including but not limited to:
        • referrals
        • IDEA eligibility identification
        • no longer qualify
      • Student growth in all learning domains

For further information or questions, please contact Nicole Madore at Nicole.madore@maine.gov  or 624-6677.