MEDIA RELEASE: Department of Education to Release Statewide Survey to Inform Framework for Returning to Classroom Instruction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 2, 2020

Contact: Kelli Deveaux

Department of Education to Release Statewide Survey to Inform Framework for Returning to Classroom Instruction

Maine Department of Education continues to work with educators and health experts from across the State to develop health markers and corresponding plans to ensure the safe return to classroom instruction.  As this work develops, the Department is seeking input from additional stakeholders from across the State, and will release a survey on July 6.

On June 11, 2020 the Department of Education released the first draft of a framework to assist school administrative units (SAUs) in developing their plans and determining their capacity to meet the national CDC guidelines for safely returning to classroom instruction.  This draft framework will continue to evolve and will be developed based on science and community health markers.

The framework was created with input from a diverse group of stakeholders, and included education and health experts, students, parents, education advocates and leaders. We have worked with a research organization to develop a survey through which educators and support professionals, education leaders, and families of students can provide comment and share their opinions on the 2020-2021 school year and possible models and needs for a safe return to classroom instruction.

Four different surveys have been created, specific to the role of the person completing the survey, including: 1.  Teachers and educational technicians; 2:  School or SAU leadership;  3:  Specialists and student support staff or 4.  Family member. The surveys will be available at https://www.maine.gov/doe/fall2020survey beginning July 6 through July 12. The Family Survey is available in 11 languages.

The data and feedback will be compiled by the research group and considered by the team who will continue to revise the framework over the next month. While these surveys will provide a snapshot at the state and county level, many superintendents have asked for and are reviewing their own community-specific information, which will inform the work of their Collaborative Planning Team in developing instructional plans that will be responsive to risk levels.

Your participation in these surveys is greatly appreciated in preparation for the next school year.  Our fervent hope is that our continued trends in the battle against COVID-19 here in Maine will allow our schools to resume classroom instruction for the start of the 2020-2021 school year, as our schools serve as a stabilizing force for our communities, students, families and the economy. Yet, it is prudent at this time to both hope for the best, and prepare for many possible scenarios.

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PRIORITY NOTICE: Invitation to a Conceptual Conversation Regarding Rule Chapter 124: Basic Approval Standards for Public Preschool

Since July 1, 2017, school approval standards governing implementation of public preschool programs in Maine have been in effect, as authorized by Title 20-A, Maine Revised Statutes, Chapters 203 and 206. Now that these rules, incorporated in Rule Chapter 124, have been in effect for several years, and in preparation for continued expansion of public preschool programming, the Maine Department of Education (Maine DOE) invites interested stakeholders to attend a conceptual conversation related to the rule on July 14, 2020 from 1pm-3pm via Zoom. The conceptual conversation will be an opportunity to provide feedback on current implementation of the Rule. If you are interested in being part of the conversation, please register, and a link will be provided.

The Department intends to take the following steps with respect to review of Chapter 124:

1.  On July 14, 2020, stakeholders are invited to attend a conceptual conversation which will be facilitated by Early Learning Team Coordinator Lee Anne Larsen, Early Childhood Specialist Nicole Madore, and Federal/State Liaison Jaci Holmes. This conversation will be guided by the following discussion prompts:

  • What aspects of Chapter 124 promote high-quality public preschool?
  • What aspects of Chapter 124 present challenges for implementing and/or achieving high-quality public preschool programming?
  • As the Maine DOE continues to support the expansion of public preschool opportunities to reach universal capacity, including partnerships with Head Start and private childcare/preschool programs, does Chapter 124 adequately support achievement of this goal?

2.  Taking into consideration the insights gained from the discussion on July 14, the Department will propose updates to Chapter 124 and begin the Maine Administrative Procedures Act (A.P.A.) routine technical rule process pursuant to 5 MRS §8052 (public notice of filing, public hearing, open public comment period).

3.  Once the proposed rule has been filed, the public will be notified of the scheduled public hearing and comment period.  This will be an opportunity to provide written and oral comments regarding the proposed rule.

4.  The Department will review all comments and respond accordingly.  Updates to the rule will then be filed for legal review before final adoption.

For more information about the conceptual conversations for Chapter 124, contact Lee Anne Larsen at leeann.larsen@maine.gov.

MEDIA RELEASE: Report Released on Maine’s State and Local Initiatives to Improve Outcomes for Children

On June 24, New America released a report describing efforts to expand and improve early education in Maine: Building Systems in Tandem – Maine’s State and Local Initiatives to Improve Outcomes for Children by David Jacobson. Find the report here.

The report describes the efforts of 13 Maine schools who, in collaboration with partners within their communities, have crafted and begun to implement First 10 plans designed to better support children and their families from birth through the first 10 years of children’s lives by attending to all domains of development, wrap around supports, parenting skills, and transitions across early learning experiences.

Maine DOE sought the help of the report author, David Jacobson, through a Preschool Expansion Grant obtained in 2014.  Jacobson leads the First 10 initiative at Education Development Center.  A list of the 13 Maine school communities and a summary of the project can be found here.

Simultaneously, while the 13 communities were developing their plans, a team composed of specialists from Maine DOE, Maine DHHS, and CDS formed to learn more about First 10 Schools and Communities, other national models, and strategies in which state level administration can engage to support this work at the local level.  Findings from Maine’s work in this area are included in this report along with next steps.

The State Team members from Maine DOE, Maine DHHS, and CDS continue to meet to explore how to expand on this work.  Questions may be directed to Lee Anne Larsen, Maine DOE Early Learning Team Coordinator, at leeann.larsen@maine.gov.

Pre-K for ME Curriculum Training

The Early Learning Team at the Maine Department of Education is pleased to host this free training for public Pre-K teachers, ed techs and administrators. Together with four Pre-K teachers from RSU 57, we’ll provide a two-day training for those interested in implementing the newly developed, whole-child, comprehensive curriculum, Pre-K for ME. Access to curriculum units is free and available now on our website at: https://www.maine.gov/doe/learning/earlychildhood/PreK4ME

This two-day training will be held in-person at the Massabesic Training Center in Waterboro, Maine on August 3rd and 4th. All necessary precautions will take place regarding the health and well-being of our participants. We will also offer remote attendance through a Zoom conference link, provided after registration. Please note that the in-person setting may change pending guidance from the CDC, Governor Mills and registration results.

Attendance by school administrators is highly encouraged in order to support the ongoing needs of your teachers, as well as to gain a better understanding of the science behind the curriculum, best practices in a Pre-K setting, and the six comprehensive units of study that the curriculum offers.

Registration is available now through the end of July at: http://events.egov.com/eventreg/ME/event.htm?name=prekformecurriculumtraining

Any questions should be directed to Nicole Madore, Early Childhood Specialist nicole.madore@maine.gov

Get to Know the DOE Team: Meet Margaret Harvey

Maine DOE team member Margaret (Meg) Harvey is being highlighted this week as part of the Get to Know the DOE Team Campaign. Learn a little more about Meg in the brief question and answer below.

What are your roles with DOE? 

I serve as the Maine Middle School Career and Technical Education (MS-CTE) consultant for the Maine Department of Education. I have been an advocate for Career and Technical Education for the last 30 years, as a grant administrator, State Director of Maine CTE and in my current role. I have been facilitating the new MS-CTE legislation and administering the pilot projects being run throughout the state.   I direct state MS-CTE grant funds; work in the field as a consultant to staff and administrators; work on national boards to develop MS-CTE protocols and standards and visit schools to provide technical assistance.

What do you like best about your job?

I really like working in the field with the students and CTE staff.  I am new to middle school brain and find it very similar to a middle aged brain! We are easily distracted, we are not sure what we want to be when we grow up, and we love to hang out with our friends!

How or why did you decide on this career?

I have always learned best in a three dimensional way, by hands on instruction.  When I first discovered CTE (a looonnng time ago…) I was so jazzed to find an educational avenue that fit my learning style.