Archive for May 9th, 2013


Empowering Educators with A-F

May 9, 2013

A Conversation on Where We Can Go From Here

By Commissioner Stephen Bowen
Teachers invited to participate in webinar

Last week, the Maine Department of Education rolled out A-F report cards for each school in the state as part of our new Maine School Performance Grading System.

These snapshots of where our schools are today based on existing reading and mathematics assessment data – and in the case of our high schools, graduation rates – show areas where we are doing well and those where we need to improve. No matter where you stand on the new grading system, we believe this is an opportunity to engage educators like you in a positive, productive conversation about our shared commitment to giving Maine kids the best education we can. We want to talk with you about how the grades were developed and how we intend to support schools, especially those with lower letter grades, in the months ahead. We’d also like your feedback on how the Department can help schools improve student achievement.

To facilitate that, we’d like to invite you and your school colleagues to join me, along with Chief Academic Officer Rachelle Tome and Director of the Statewide Longitudinal Data System Bill Hurwitch for an online forum about A-F and how it can be used as an invaluable tool for improving Maine’s schools.

The Department will share how we can be a resource to help you in understanding and putting this data tool to work immediately for you and your students. We’ll also talk about other available resources the State has or is developing to make available to you. Then we’ll open the floor to your feedback as to how we can further support your important efforts in the classroom.

The forum will be held from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 16. We encourage you to participate with others from your school so you can pose questions as a cohort and continue the conversation after the forum has concluded.

Register for the webinar:

We look forward to talking with you on May 16 and beyond as together we implement improvement initiatives and reach our shared goal for every school in Maine to be an A school that is preparing our students for meaningful college, career and civic engagement.


No Police – Arts Teachers

May 9, 2013

Screen shot 2013-05-07 at 10.01.36 PM

I know that many of you read about or saw the segment on NBC news about the success of Orchard Gardens K-8 School. I received about 10 emails from Maine arts educators with the link to the segment. I had this blog post in draft form for about 2 weeks since I had read about the school and its success earlier. Thanks to those who sent me the information after it was on the nightly news.

Instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on security at the Orchard Gardens K-8 School in Roxbury, MA the principal let go of the security guards and hired arts teachers to take their places. Five principals in 7 years and each year half of the teaching staff would leave. In 2006 principal #6 Andrew Bott came on board and he chose to “use the arts as a tool for academic success.” They went from one of the lowest performing schools in the state to rapidly improvement. The halls reflect the spirit of the school with art work on display everywhere.
Retired music educator Iris Fields said: “In my mind, it shows the drastic interventions that need our commitment to help schools in Maine!” You can learn more at this link You can see the segment from NBC news last week at

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