PRIORITY NOTICE: Resources to help schools keep students and school staff safe

Maine schools have long taken security seriously, working with local fire, police, and County Emergency Management Agencies to update emergency operations plans and exercise those plans at the local level.

Maine has worked at the State and local levels to strengthen the safety and security of its schools. Efforts have included free day-long security workshops in partnership with the Maine Principals’ Association and Maine School Management Association in addition to extensive tools to inform local planning, training, and preparation.

A 2014 Legislative report on the preparedness and facility security of Maine schools created by national and local experts praised the positive climates in Maine schools.

However, in light of recent high profile national incidents, the Department is reminding districts of resources available to support schools in their ongoing efforts to keep students and school staff safe.

Available on the Maine Department of Education website are, a free school security guide created for Maine DOE by Safe Havens International entitled Twenty Simple Strategies to Safer and More Effective Schools and a similar resource specific to building safety entitled Seven Important Building Design Features to Enhance School Safety and Security.  These guides are evidence-based strategies.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has available a cyber security awareness campaign called Stop.Think.Connect. which focuses on raising awareness about how to be safer and more secure online.

After a horrific incident like what happened recently in Florida, people want to take action. The safest response is to slow down, have local conversations about security (schools, fire, police, and county emergency management agencies), and take account of what is in place first before taking action.

For more resources, including training and emergency operations planning, from Maine DOE and its emergency planning partners, visit: or contact Pat Hinckley at 624-6886 or by email at .

Governor LePage Recognizes School District Collaboration To Benefit Students

Released on Wednesday, February 14, 2018

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage has issued the following statement recognizing today’s State Board of Education vote to accept the scoring for the finalists for the Integrated, Consolidated 9–16 Educational Facility Pilot Project.

“Communities across Maine are demonstrating that when the state provides them with support and incentives, they will work together to create more opportunities for students in an efficient and effective way,” said Governor LePage. “I commend the local superintendents and school boards for putting the needs of their students first.”

The Governor added, “Enabling Maine students to benefit from regional and collaborative approaches to education is the right thing to do. When these projects are up and running, they will serve as a shining example of what is possible when our communities work together to benefit students.”

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) has implemented the Integrated, Consolidated 9–16 Educational Facility Pilot Project as part of the EMBRACE initiative, providing support and incentives to communities that work together to increase opportunities for students through regional partnerships that enable efficiency and take advantage of scale that the communities could not achieve on their own.

Most recently, Maine DOE announced grant awards of $4.6 million to school districts to pursue more than $10 million in savings through regional projects.






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 or (207) 624-6747.

MSAA Alternate Assessment Test Coordinator Training Webinar

As a reminder to District Assessment Coordinators, Test Coordinators providing assistance with the upcoming administration of the MEA alternate Assessment, MSAA are invited to attend a training this Friday, February 16 at 2:30pm.  This webinar may be accessed online here.

This webinar will be recorded and posted on the Maine DOE MSAA website.  Online training will also be available within the MSAA site March 5 – May 4, 2018.

For questions regarding this training, please contact Sue Nay at

Mainers take on the Read to ME Challenge

After First Lady Ann LePage launched the Read to ME Challenge with second graders at Gilbert Elementary School in Augusta on February 1, it didn’t take long for others across the state to join in the campaign to promote awareness of the importance of reading regularly to and with children.  The Saco School Department hosted Maine children’s author, Chris Van Dusen, who accepted the challenge and read to students at Fairfield Elementary School that same day.  Van Dusen quickly challenged the Saco School Department’s superintendent and Fairfield Elementary School’s principal and their efforts have even reached Maine State Senator Chenette.

A bit further north, Lewiston Public Schools’ superintendent, Bill Webster, posted the challenge encouraging educators, parents, and community members read to children throughout the month. Very quickly, students at Lewiston’s McMahon School stepped up to get busy reading followed by students at Montello Elementary.

Each year the Maine Department of Education (DOE) promotes the challenge as an opportunity to help communities throughout Maine contribute to children’s literacy growth by reading aloud to one or more children for at least 15 minutes. Part of the challenge is capturing the moment via a photo or video and then posting it on social media (with the hashags #ReadtoME or #ReadaloudME) with a challenge to others to do the same.  Since the kick-off, parents, educators and community members have been stepping up to accept the challenge and issue challenges of their own.  With more than 60 partner organizations helping to support the effort, many minutes of reading have been logged across the state.

Some of the partners in the campaign have included institutions of higher education and community literacy teams.  In northern Maine, a number of staff and administration from the University of Maine at Fort Kent have read to students in three St. John Valley elementary schools – Fort Kent Elementary, Madawaska Elementary, and Dr. Levesque Elementary in Frenchville.  They targeted 1st and 2nd grade classrooms and read Mahalia Mouse Goes to College by John Lithgow to emphasize the importance of literary with the dual purpose of promoting college and post-secondary aspirations.

At the University of Maine at Farmington, Beaver Pride is strong for the challenge.  UMF has partnered with Mallett Elementary School.  UMF students have signed up to read to kindergarten and first grade students.  UMF students can also be Super Beaver Readers by signing up to read to second graders every week for 4 weeks.

Southern Maine Community College President Cantor read to 4th and 5th grade students at Skillin Elementary School in South Portland.

In Houlton, the Rotary Club’s community literacy team has plans to sponsor Read to ME Challenge events every Saturday in February.  They have combined reading with other fun activities at a variety of locations around Houlton.  Additionally, they invited First Lady LePage to read to students at Houlton Elementary School and to speak with their Rotary Club about the importance of reading to children.

Maine Department of Education employees are also taking on the challenge by visiting schools and day care centers to read to children.  During the February vacation week, the Maine DOE will be hosting a “read-in” during which employees can bring their children in listen to stories throughout the day.

For more information about the Read to ME Challenge, contact

Seeking special education mentors for MACM Program

Maine’s Alternative Certification and Mentoring (MACM) Program is seeking up to 50 practicing or recently retired special educators interested in mentoring conditionally certified first-year teachers for 2018-2019. Maine’s Alternative Certification and Mentoring program is a collaboration between Maine DOE and the UMaine System.

The mentorship position requires the following:

Current or recently expired certification and endorsements in 282, 286, 290, or 291 and at least 5 years of experience supporting students with disabilities. Special education directors and recently retired educators are also encouraged to apply. Must be available to attend training in late June 2018.

For more information and to apply – view the online application.

About Maine’s Alternative Certification and Mentoring Program

For conditionally certified special educators, Maine’s Alternative Certification and Mentoring Program offers intensive, ongoing support and mentoring for up to three years from an experienced special educator in the same area of practice. Find out more information about the MACM Program.


Guidance for reporting Quarter 3 attendance and truancy

Quarter 3 attendance information may now be uploaded into the Synergy Student Information System. The Department is providing some additional guidance for Quarter 3 reporting because student attendance data is now an accountability indicator in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). It is important that districts are clear on the instructions for uploading truancy and attendance reports so that the data is accurate and consistent.

The following are guidance for truancy and attendance uploads:


Under ESSA, Maine is now required to report Chronic Absenteeism to the U.S. Department of Education. A student is considered absent if that student is present for less than 50% of his or her instructional day. A student is either considered absent or present for any given day. Less than half a day is counted as zero; half or more of a day is counted as one. A student is considered chronically absent if a student is absent 10% or more of the days enrolled and is enrolled for a minimum of ten days.

Most students have an instructional day that is defined by the school’s daily schedule, but there may be students for whom this is not the case.  For example, a high school senior taking only two classes might have a full instructional day of 3 hours.  That student would be absent if present for fewer than 1.5 hours.  Your schools may also have specific attendance policies that address the completion of instructional activities off-campus (e.g., distance education, community projects).

The student attendance report will ask that you provide the following information for each student:

  • Number of days enrolled (whole number only. Decimals not allowed). This is the number of active instructional days that school has been in session since the student’s initial enrollment.  Holidays, in-service days, and days that the school is closed for inclement weather would not be included. With some exceptions (See Maine Statute Title 20-A Section 4801)a student who is enrolled for the full school year would be expected to
  • Total days absent (whole number only. Decimals not allowed). Students should NOT be counted absent when participating in sanctioned school activities that cause them to miss classroom instruction (e.g. field trips, school sports team activities)
  • Total days of excused absences (whole number only. Decimals not allowed)

This will allow you (and the DOE) to determine the number of unexcused absences the student accrued and therefore give you a tool with which to double check your truancy data. For example, you would expect to see a truancy incident created for a student with 10 or more unexcused absences (days absent – excused absences).


Truancy refers only to a student’s unexcused absences and is a term that only applies to students who are of compulsory school age (7 to 17).  There are four different truancy thresholds:

  1. A student aged 7 or above who hasn’t completed 6th grade and has 5 or more consecutive unexcused absences
  2. A student aged 7 or above who hasn’t completed 6th grade and has 7 or more cumulative unexcused absences.
  3. A student who has completed 6th grade but is not yet 17 and has 7 or more consecutive unexcused absences.
  4. A student who has completed 6th grade but is not yet 17 and has 10 or more cumulative unexcused absences.

For schools to determine when a student reaches any of these thresholds, it would be necessary for the school to track daily attendance and maintain information on whether each absence is excused or unexcused.

Maine Statute Title 20-A, Section 5001-A enumerates six categories of excusable absence:

  • Personal illness;
  • An appointment with a health professional that must be made during the regular school day;
  • Observance of a recognized religious holiday when the observance is required during the regular school day;
  • A family emergency;
  • A planned absence for a personal or educational purpose that has been approved;
  • *Education disruption resulting from homelessness, unplanned psychiatric hospitalization, unplanned hospitalization for a medical emergency, foster care placement, youth development center placement or some other out-of-district placement that is not otherwise authorized by either an IEP, other education plan, or a superintendent’s agreement.

Local school boards have the responsibility for developing rules to administer the attendance statute, which could include any local policies on what, if any, documentation is required to excuse an absence.

Truancy reporting requires student information to be submitted that indicates which of the four truancy thresholds the student crossed and documentation of the school’s response to the truancy.  The sequence of steps to that response are also described in statute Title 20-A, Section 5051-A.

Going forward, attendance and truancy data will be need to be uploaded at no less than on a quarterly basis. For the 2017-2018 year, the Department will be requiring only Quarter 3 and the Final report to be certified.  However, for intervention purposes, the Department recommends districts review student attendance on at least a weekly or monthly basis.

For questions regarding attendance and truancy, please contact Gayle Erdheim 207-624-6637.  For questions regarding access to Synergy or NEO, please contact the help desk, 207-624-6896.