Maine DOE offers new resource to help local districts monitor student growth in reading

The Maine Department of Education (Department) will begin using a universal reading metric called The Lexile® Framework for Reading to help Maine school districts monitor student growth and progress.

The Lexile Framework, which aligns with Maine’s State eMPowerME Assessments administered to grades 3 through 8 (among many other nationally used assessments), will allow districts to benchmark reading growth and assist with a comparison of data across commercial assessments.

“The framework will provide all schools in Maine with an additional resource to enhance classroom instruction,” said Maine Department of Education Commissioner Robert G. Hasson, Jr. “It will also help schools in their efforts to support families working at home with their children.”

The Lexile Framework was created by MetaMetrics® and provides a scientific approach to measuring growth and matching students to ability-appropriate learning materials. The Lexile Framework involves a scale for measuring both the reading ability of an individual and the text complexity of materials he or she encounters.

Content specialists at the Maine Department of Education, in collaboration with MetaMetrics, are beginning to prepare professional development opportunities that align with Lexile Framework data to help districts make instruction improvements based on student need.

The new resource is available through funds from Title I grant money from the U.S. Department of Education and administered by Maine’s Department staff, with ongoing professional learning opportunities to support statewide implementation.

Set to become available late spring/early summer, districts will be able to start using the new resource to monitor growth beginning in the 2018/19 school year, both within a single school year and from year-to-year going forward.

For more information contact Rachel Paling, Maine DOE Director of Communications at Rachel.paling@maine.gov or (207) 624-6747.

FEMA opens nominations to recognize youth for their work in Emergency Preparedness

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be opening up nominations nationwide for youth from grades 8 to 11 to join the National Youth Preparedness Council. Nominations will be opened for six week starting in late January, early February. If you know of youth involved in emergency preparedness work, who are part of Teen CERT, Medical Response Corps, or volunteer locally to help people with local emergencies, please let them know about this upcoming opportunity.

New England’s current youth council representative is from Connecticut and currently is serving her second term on this national council.

For more information about the National Youth Preparedness Council visit this website: https://www.ready.gov/youth-preparedness-council

For additional information please contact Sara Varela, Regional Preparedness Liaison, FEMA Region 1 (703) 713-8819 sara.varela@icf.com

 

PRIORITY NOTICE: Widespread Influenza in Maine

The following message has been provided by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Influenza activity in Maine is widespread with laboratory confirmed influenza reported in all counties. Influenza A/H3, and influenza B have been confirmed in Maine indicating both strains are circulating.  Maine CDC has followed up on 52 outbreaks of influenza as of Thursday January 25, 2018. Influenza vaccination is still strongly encouraged and is widely available, especially to protect those persons at risk of severe disease.  The vaccine appears to be a good match to three strains (A/H1, B/Yamagata, B/Victoria) this year, and it is not too late to get vaccinated.  Nationally, the majority of the circulating A/H3 strains are not a good match to the vaccine.  Maine specific data is not available at this time, but it is assumed to be similar to the national picture.  Vaccination is still recommended as it will protect against the other three strains, and it may offer cross protection and decrease the severity of illness.

What can Maine schools do to prevent and control influenza?

  • Report outbreaks: Report outbreaks of any illness, defined as student absenteeism rates >15%, immediately to Maine CDC.  Submit > 15% absenteeism reports through the Department of Education NEO Dashboard Absenteeism Reporting application (for more information, see http://maine.gov/education/sh/contents/AbsenteeReportingNEOSHM.3.2017.pdf).  Field epidemiologists are available to provide consultation on infection control.  Reports may also be called to 1-800-821-5821.
  • Promote health among students and staff: Encourage students, parents, teachers and staff to be aware of their health and to identify early if they have influenza-like illness (defined as fever of 100 degrees or greater, plus sore throat and/or cough).  Promote four steps to prevent flu: wash hands, cover cough, stay home if sick, and get vaccinated.   Individuals should stay home until 24 hours after fever resolves without the use of fever reducing medications.
  • Increase environmental cleaning: Frequently clean high touch surfaces, like door knobs, desks, and light switches – this helps break down the presence of the virus in the environment.
  • Review school policy on sickness and health: Review with staff your school policy on illness among students and staff.  Invite the school nurse or physician to speak at a staff meeting or school board meeting to promote prevention of influenza.  Consider steps the school will take in the event of continued elevated absenteeism.

Where can I find more information? 

Administrative Letter: Guidance for suspension, expulsion and modified schedules in public preschool programs

Administrative Letter: 12
Policy Code: JKD
To: Public School Administrators
From: Robert G. Hasson, Jr., Ed. D. Commissioner
Date: January 18, 2018
Subject: Guidance for suspension, expulsion and modified schedules in public preschool programs

This guidance is offered by the Maine Department of Education to clarify suspension, expulsion, and modified schedules as they apply to 4-year-olds attending public preschool programs.

Suspension, Expulsion, and Modified Schedules in General Education

Suspension for up to 10 days of 4-year-olds attending public preschool programs is permitted only in accordance with 20-A M.R.S. § 1001(9).

As with their K-12 counterparts, 4-year-olds attending public preschool may not be unenrolled nor asked not to return without being afforded the due process standard for expulsion in accordance with 20-A M.R.S. §1001(8-A).

Districts cannot unilaterally determine that a child attend on a modified schedule-e.g. reduced school day, reduced school week.  Parents must be involved in and agree to this decision and understand thoroughly the reasons for the request.

Suspension and Expulsion for Children with Disabilities

In accordance with Federal and State law, a child may not be excluded from enrollment in a public preschool program based solely on the presence of a disability.  Enrolled children who are referred to Child Development Services (CDS) based on program concerns regarding the child’s development or behavior must be considered a child with a disability and afforded the same rights as his/her K-12 counterparts until the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) team makes its determinations.

Please contact Sue Reed, Early Childhood Specialist at 624-6632 or susan.d.reed@maine.gov or Jan Breton, State Director of Special Services, Birth – 20, Janice.breton@maine.gov 624-6676 with questions or comments about the guidance.

Maine FFA student officers review Maine agriculture

Maine FFA State Officers meet with grant sponsor Maine Agriculture in the Classroom (MAITC). Left to right: Doug Robertson, State FFA Advisor, Maine Department of Education; Maryjane Stafford, Chair, MAITC Association; Willie Sawyer Grenier, Executive Director; Kelsey Fortin, Assistant. In background is Maine Agricultural License Plate, whose revenues support $60,000 in educational grants each year.

Student State Officers of the Maine FFA Association (formerly known as “Future Farmers of America”) enjoyed in depth discussions with representatives of Maine’s agriculture and natural resources community on January 9, 2018 at the Agricultural Trades Show in the Augusta Civic Center.

The Maine FFA Association, devoted to leadership development, represents students in grades 7-12 (as well as collegiate alumni members) enrolled in classes related to agriculture and natural resources.  Some of these classes are offered through technical programs (such as horticulture and forestry) at secondary Career & Technical Education schools, while others are offered through middle and secondary classes in subjects such as science that are aligned to agriculture and natural resources.  Maine currently has 14 FFA chapters from Sanford to Caribou with over 500 members.  FFA members participate in state-level events as well as regional and national competitions, leadership training and other opportunities (such as over $2 million in scholarships) provided by the National FFA Organization.

The annual Agricultural Trades Show is organized by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and features 3 days of presentations, lessons and displays involving representatives of numerous industry, governmental and non-profit organizations.

Maine’s State FFA Officer team came away from this year’s Trades Show with a greater understanding of the state’s agriculture and natural resources, as well as the names of many contacts to include in future partnerships.  They also had the opportunity to attend the luncheon hosted by Commissioner Walt Whitcomb of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry at which presentations included Governor Paul LePage and Dr. Barb Glenn, Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

For more information about Maine FFA and how to start an FFA chapter, please contact:  Doug Robertson, Agriculture & Natural Resources Specialist and Maine FFA State Advisor, Maine Department of Education, doug.robertson@maine.gov  (207) 624-6744

Maine FFA State Officers (center) – Micayla Driscoll, Secretary-Treasurer; Isabelle Wright, Vice President; Kaley Norsworthy, President – visit with representatives of major sponsor, Farm Credit East – Renee Poulin, Appraiser Trainee, and Jacob Vainio, Credit Representative/Analyst

Maine DOE Office of Special Services receives approval of revised policies and procedures

In 2015, the federal Office of Special Education (OSEP) required the Maine Department of Education-Office of Special Services to revise its policies and procedures for excess cost determinations and for allocating federal funds consistent with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

OSEP also required that the Maine Department of Education notify grant sub-recipients of the revisions under Criteria 1.1 and 2.2 of OSEP’s fiscal monitoring letter dated, October 27, 2015. The Maine Department of Education is hereby notifying all grant sub-recipients of the revisions as follows:

Criterion 1.1

  1. Child Development Services (CDS) received the correct sub-grant a local educational agency (LEA) in Federal fiscal years (FFYs) 2014 and 2015 under section 611 and section 619 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); and
  2. Allocations under IDEA 611 to eligible LEAs, including CDS, are consistent with 34 CFR
  3. §300.705(a).

Criterion 2.2

LEAs comply with the excess cost requirements in 34 CFR §300.16, 300.202(a)(2) and (b), and Appendix A to 34 CFR Part 300.

  • Procedures to allocate the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act-Part B, sections 611-619 sub grants to eligible LEAs based upon the corrected formula;
  • Procedures to ensure that LEAs use IDEA funds only to pay the excess costs of providing special education and related services to children with disabilities.

The Maine Department of Education is hereby notifying all LEAs that the Office of Special Services’ policies and procedures in these two areas are in compliance with federal requirements. No further action by the Maine Department of Education or Local Education Agencies is required. The link to OSEP’s letter of compliance can be found here:

http://www.maine.gov/doe/specialed/support/fiscal/documents/OSEPFindingsComplianceLetterDec2017.pdf

Questions may be directed to Janice E. Breton, State Director of Special Services, Birth – 20 at Janice.Breton@maine.gov.

 

Maine DOE joins the nation in celebration of “American Education Week”

In a Presidential Memoranda from The White House on Friday, November 10th President Donald Trump proclaimed November 12 – November 18, 2017 as American Education week. 

“As we celebrate American Education Week, we are reminded of the vital importance of education for our children, for our communities, and for our world.” 

The Maine Department of Education joins The White House and education communities around the nation to recognize and celebrate the hard work and determination of Maine students, their families, educators and schools as they strive for achievement and success. 

See the full proclamation on The White House website.