Posts Tagged ‘education’


LD 1422

February 14, 2013


This Administrative Letter from the Commissioner of Education might help clarify LD 1422 for you – Proficiency-Based Diploma
Implementing LD 1422:  Proficiency-Based Diplomas

The change to a learner-centered, proficiency-based system of education is one of the most significant changes in education in the last 100 years.  It holds great promise for helping all students graduate career- and college-ready for the 21st century.  The Maine Department of Education has built its strategic plan, Education Evolving, around this principle and we are restructuring our service delivery model to improve our ability to assist districts in accomplishing this shift.

While we at Maine DOE are re-tooling to help local districts, many of you have been working to implement these changes and provide leadership and direction for the rest of the state.  As a result of local implementation efforts, the Department has fielded questions recently regarding the implementation of learner-centered, proficiency-based education and the proficiency-based graduation requirement of LD 1422.  The purpose of this letter is to answer these questions, which include the following:

Are students required to achieve proficiency in all standards in all content areas?

Will the Department require local districts to adopt specific curricula or instructional approaches as part of the Common Core and the proficiency-based diploma requirement?

How does the proficiency-based graduation requirement apply to students with Individual Education Plans under IDEA?

Has the required implementation date for proficiency-based graduation changed?

All standards in all content areas

Maine law, Title 20-A, section 4722-A requires a student graduating after January 1, 2017* to “demonstrate proficiency in meeting state standards in all content areas of the system of learning results established under section 6209.”  The Department of Education interprets this language to mean that students must demonstrate proficiency in all standards in all content areas as set forth in Department Rule Chapter 131 and 132.  For the most part, the manner in which these standards are taught and the method by which proficiency is assessed is a local decision, as described below.

State or local curricula and instructional practices

School districts are required to offer students instruction and educational experiences that provide them the opportunity to achieve and demonstrate proficiency in all content areas of the Maine Learning Results standards.  (see Title 20-A, sections 4711 and 4721).  The role of the Maine Department of Education is to provide resources and technical assistance to support districts in creating curricula and instructional practices to meet the needs of their students.  Decisions regarding curricula and instructional practices are local decisions. The Department will disseminate materials and training on practices that, in the experience and expertise of our staff, constitute “best practices,” though they are not binding on districts.

With regard to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics, for example, the strength of these standards is their unique, integrated structure, and we believe that it is important for districts to implement them in a way that is consistent with their integrated design, and the Department stands ready to provide assistance and support to districts as they undertake this work..

Proficiency-based graduation requirement, students with IEPs

The law regarding proficiency-based graduation provides that a diploma may be awarded to “a child with a disability, as defined in section 7001” if that child achieves proficiency in the same standards as required of other children, “…as specified by the goals and objectives of the child’s individualized education plan…”

The Department interprets this language to mean that an IEP may modify the means by which a student with a disability demonstrates proficiency in the standards, but the IEP does not modify the standards themselves.  The standards and established proficiency levels will be held constant for all students in the awarding of a diploma.

*Implementation date

The law requiring proficiency-based diplomas included a provision requiring the state to provide implementation grants to local school districts, or else to delay the implementation date for such diplomas.  Section 4722-A, subsection 4 requires the implementation grant to equal 1/10th of 1% of a school administrative unit’s total cost of education under Title 20-A, section 15688.

Because the state did not provide implementation grants in the 2012-13 school year, the deadline for implementing the proficiency-based diploma requirement is January 1, 2018.  This means that diplomas awarded on or after January 1, 2018 must be awarded on the basis of the requirements set forth in section 4722-A.

While the deadline is extended, please keep in mind that, in order for students to graduate with proficiency-based diplomas in 2018, they should be provided an opportunity to work in a proficiency-based education system as soon as practicable, so we encourage you not to delay laying the groundwork for proficiency-based diplomas.  Also keep in mind that the commissioner may authorize a school district to award proficiency-based diplomas sooner than the deadline.

For more information on the Department’s work to support teaching and learning in Maine’s schools, please visit our website .   Beginning July 1, 2013, the Department expects to launch a comprehensive online resource bank for schools transitioning to learner-centered, standards-based education.


Welcome Back!

November 26, 2012

The importance of relationships

Kevin Grover

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful and that you had a restful break. I know you return to school this morning after your few days off to a variety of students who have had a break that may have been similar to yours or quite different. Most importantly I hope that they are glad to see you because you make a difference in their life. Perhaps this is about the learning that takes place in your classroom or maybe it is for another reason. When a teacher connects with a student whether they are in elementary, middle or high school it is often because of the relationship that has been established. This is also true for the relationship that teachers have with colleagues.

On Friday I learned of a colleague who passed away at age 40 on Thanksgiving when he returned from a morning run. Kevin Grover taught at Falmouth Elementary School and was the 2010 Maine Teacher of the Year. His family was very important to him, he was a husband and the father of two young children. He has made an enormous impact on those he has touched over the years.

When asked about teaching in 2010 Kevin said:  “I love it, two days are never the same. Kids offer so many teachable moments.” He felt strongly about working with parents so they viewed themselves as “partners” in the educational process. He called parents “the most important teacher” in a child’s life and said “parents need to be aware of what their child is doing in school and be comfortable speaking to teachers.” And about relationships Kevin said: “To help motivate them, I have to establish relationships and figure out their interests, and incorporate their interests in their school work.” He would greet students each day as they entered his classroom to “get a sense of how each child is feeling”.

Kevin loved technology and incorporated it into his classroom in a variety of ways. Kevin was the first teacher that I saw using a flip camera. I noticed how comfortable he was with it, one time using it in between his speaking responsibilities at an event at the State House. He was curious, interested, and deeply committed to learning and teaching.

Teachers don’t know where their teaching ends and I am certain that even though Kevin is gone from Earth that his impact will continue.

Kevin with his flip camera as Governor Baldacci and the First Lady prepare to speak


Final Arts Assessment Webinar of MAAI Phase 1

June 25, 2012

Commissioner Bowen guest on Back to the Future Webinar

On May 23rd we had the final webinar for the series as part of Phase 1 of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI). Commissioner Bowen was the guest with facilitators Catherine Ring and Rob Westerberg. The webinar was called Back to the Future: Arts Teachers Lead the Way. Catherine and Rob put together a list of questions for the Commissioner which provide a great deal of information.

If you were one of the 40 participants thanks for joining the webinar. Throughout the discussion the Commissioner shared his perspective on arts education. The webinar, along with the interview the Commissioner did for the blog post on August 30, 2011, shows his commitment to arts education.

Below are three of the questions that the Commissioner was asked on the webinar:

  1. Mass customized learning is all about shifting the paradigm in education. The Arts Assessment Initiative has been all about proficiency and assessment of proficiency. How can we use the arts in shifting the new educational paradigm, and how can this shift help the new paradigm of Arts education?
  2. It has been our experience that we have encountered many misperceptions about arts education (comprehensive understanding of what it really is); it is unique in that we are the ones who teach the creative process and we reach all children. There is a difference between creativity as a life skill which you may encounter across disciplines and the creative process grades PK through 12 which is learned only in the arts classrooms. How does the nature of the arts therefore connect to 21st century skills which are the foundation of our future work, and how are they to be assessed?
  3. What is the difference between LD 1422 and what we have now as it relates specifically to the arts?

Thank you to Catherine and Rob for facilitating the 7 webinars that happened throughout the school year. All of them have been archived and can be accessed with meeting plans on the Department’s arts assessment page at


During the webinar we looked at a crosswalk showing the connections with the MAAI and the Department’s Strategic Education Evolving.

The webinar is archived along with the other 6 MAAI webinars that have taken place during the school year since September. You can listen to the recordings located at Also at this webpage you will find meeting plans for each of the 7 webinars that you can use individually or at teacher’s meeting.

Thank you to Catherine and Rob for their work on the webinars. They are an important component of the MAAI and will continue to be useful for arts teachers across the state.

Below is the crosswalk that you can download as a .pdf or word document on the Department’s arts assessment webpage.

Strategic Plan

Maine Arts Assessment Initiative

1: Effective, Learner-Centered Instruction
  • The heart of all Professional Development IS student-centered learning
  • Presently using MLR, will transition to national standards, expected in December 2012
  • Individual teachers creating assessment tools to meet needs of their classrooms/students/PK-12 local systems
2: Great Teachers and Leaders
  • Building on what we know, providing Professional Development opportunities for teachers to move – good to great
  • Teacher leader training in assessment, technology, and leadership
  • Going deeper and wider for teacher learning
  • Collaborative opportunities
  • Development and empowerment of teacher leaders
  • Community of practice: Maine Arts Education Leaders
3: Multiple Pathways for Learner Achievement
  • Training teachers to lead in determining what tools will be used at the local level
  • Variety of arts courses available in high schools
4: Comprehensive School and Community Supports
  • Encouraging collaborative work
  • Providing successful stories, examples
  • Beyond phase 2: ideas under discussion
5: Coordinated and Effective State Support
  • Identification of teacher leaders – 36 total, training in assessment, leadership, technology – developing workshops
  • Facilitating workshops regionally
  • Webinars – archived w/meeting plans
  • Graduate courses being offered
  • Arts ed list serv/Blog – ongoing communication
  • Repository of best practices (lessons, units, assessment tools)
  • Community of Practice



News Release

May 18, 2012

Bowen statement of passage of ed bills

Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen issued the following statement Thursday following legislative approval on Wednesday of several key education bills, including: LD 1422, which requires that the state’s public schools transition to a proficiency-based diploma; LD 1779, which moves Maine career and technical education programs toward the full adoption of national industry standards; and LD 1865, which makes it easier for students to access career and technical education courses.

“Our vision for education in Maine is a system in which everything is built around the student. How do we engage students and make school relevant and challenging? How can we give students and families choices in finding the right learning environment and developing an education plan that works for them?

“With the passage of these bills, the Legislature has given students more options and access to career and technical education courses, and have endorsed the concept that students should graduate when they’ve mastered the skills they need to be successful after high school. We have more work to do, especially in the area of giving students and families more options, but this is a great start.”

All Maine Department of Education news releases can be found online at:


Arts Assessment Webinar: What We’ve Learned

April 2, 2012

Sharing the lessons learned over the last year and a half…

April 4, 2012

The Maine Arts Assessment Initiative was launched in the Summer of 2010 as a first-in-the-nation state effort to bring best practices in arts education to the forefront by developing and refining assessment strategies at the grass roots level. The stories of the journey are numerous, and lessons learned along the way are many. These have deep ramifications not only for the Initiative as it moves forward, but for anyone associated with arts education in Maine: parents, students, teachers and administrators. Join Catherine Ring and Rob Westerberg on their webinar on Wednesday, April 4 from 3:30 to 4:30 pm as they unpack these lessons learned.

Drawing from recent data; feedback from over two hundred professionals in the field, feedback from the Fall Conference, Regional Workshops and prior MAAI webinars, Catherine and Rob have organized this presentation into an informing set of common themes. With guest presenter Argy Nestor, Visual and Performing Arts Specialist at the Maine DOE, they will attempt to make sense of it all in a way that can help focus and direct future work for all of Arts education in Maine and beyond. Participants will be instructed to provide live, real time feedback as the webinar unfolds, and everyone’s voice is encouraged to be heard! Active MAAI educator or first time participant,  single listener or in a group, as an educator, parent, administrator or student, this is THE webinar that you will want to be sure to put on your calendar and attend!

To join the meeting:

Go online to

Type your name in the field labeled “Enter as Guest”

Dial in access: 1-866-910-4857 – Passcode 140893


Musical Revue

March 29, 2012

Arts Assessment Teacher Leader Allysa Anderson’s students perform

Camden Rockport Middle School presents Its Our Time, a musical revue Friday, March 30th, 6:30 p.m., Strom Auditorium Camden Hills Regional High School. With one fourth of the school population participating students will share songs, dance, and more from a variety broadway shows.


Maine Art Educator of the Year: Linda Stanley

March 28, 2012

Linda speaks at the Youth Art Month Opening, Portland Museum of Art

Linda Stanley retired from teaching art but not before she was recognized for her contributions to teaching by the Maine Art Education Association. On March 10th Linda spoke at the opening for the Youth Art Month exhibit at the Portland Museum of Art. Below you will find her message. The student exhibit remains at the museum until March 31st.

Last week I had the honor of representing the art teachers of Maine at the National Art Education Association Conference in New York City. With five thousand registered attendees and an expected two thousand walk-in registrations, I had the chance to meet and discuss art with many creative artists and teachers.

One of the artists I had a chance to meet and hear was Peter Max. He quoted Isaac Newton who said, “I have not come far without having stood on the shoulders of giants.” Peter Max then said, “My art teachers have all been great giants to me, ever since I was a young boy who was fascinated with art, imagination and creativity.” As I walk through the halls of this museum I hear the footsteps of giants urging all of you to create and work as artists throughout the state of Maine.

Peter Max was raised in Shanghai, China and would spend hours with a calligraphy brush in his hand. His Chinese nanny encouraged him to “just draw”. He developed his muscles in his hands and wrists. He would go through stacks of paper each day. The skills he built early as a child would later help him as an artist.

I would encourage you to draw everyday. Just as a successful athlete or musician makes their art appear to flow from them and seem easy…they practice everyday. Peter Max’s work may appear easy but his practice as a child helped him build a repertoire of images in his mind and skilled hands to work from.

Chuck Close was another artist I had a chance to listen to at the convention.  He said, “inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and work.  If you go to work – everything comes out of the work itself.  I’ve never had an artistic block – inspiration is overrated.”

Each of you is already an artist so please continue to work, create and most of all enjoy what you are doing. I agree with most of what Chuck Close had to say.  However, your works hanging in this museum are an inspiration to all of us.  An inspiration to get out our sketch books and practice, practice, practice as Peter Max said.

Linda Stanley who is the Maine Art Education Association teacher of the year shared these thoughtst at the opening for the state Youth Art Month opening at the Portland Museum of Art on March 10th.


MMEA Jazz All State Festival

March 26, 2012

Maine Music Educators Association bring students and adults together

In most areas of the country, March Madness means Basketball. That happens in Maine in February, but there is also a March Madness in Maine for students in the Arts. There are Regional and State Drama Festivals, Visual Art Shows and it is Music in Our School month, meaning concerts abound. Oh…and it’s Jazz Season…ALL month long!

The Maine Music Educator’s Association (MMEA) sponsors District and State Jazz Festivals for both Middle School and High School jazz groups throughout the state.  Tonight (Monday, March 26, 2012) at 9:00, Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN) will broadcast some of Maine’s finest student Jazz Musicians from the MMEA Jazz All State Festival, held in Scarborough in January. You will have an opportunity to watch individual students from many Maine High Schools participate together in Jazz Bands, a Jazz Combo and a Jazz Choir.

In March, students participate in Jazz Ensembles which are part of their school music programs and these groups then compete against similar groups from other schools. First, these groups must qualify for the MMEA State Festival at an MMEA District Festival by receiving a certain score…any number of schools may qualify.  Then, each type of group has it’s own State Festival. If you love Jazz, you will love all of these festivals and be prepared for Maine’s student Jazz Musicians to blow you away with their talent! The first of the MMEA State Festivals was the MMEA High School Instrumental Jazz Festival, held at Mount Desert Island High School on March 16 and 17. On Friday, March 16th all Jazz Combos competed and schools that have more than one Jazz Band competed in the ‘Multiple’ Jazz Band category.  On Saturday, March 17th, all of the other High School Jazz Bands competed in three different venues and 4 different divisions. The divisions are determined by school size…all of the schools are ranked in order of size and then 4 equal divisions are created. There were a total of 37 schools involved, with 30 on Saturday (7 schools participated with combos only).

Awards for the High School Instrumental Festival were as follows:

In Division IV:

  • First Place–George Stevens Academy, directed by Steve Orlofsk
  • 2nd Place–Maine Central Institute (MCI), Directed by Dean Neal
  • 3rd Place–Old Orchard Beach, directed by Mark Manduca

In Division III:

  • First Place–Old Town High School, directed by Jeff Priest
  • 2nd Place–MDI (Darth Vader), directed by Dan Granholm
  • 3rd Place–Fryeburg Academy directed by C. Brent LeCasce.

In Division II:

  • First Place–Nokomis High School, directed by M. Stanley Buchanan
  • 2nd Place–Westbrook High School, directed by Phil Rich
  • 3rd Place Brewer High School, directed by Brady Harris

In Division I:

  • First Place–South Portland, directed by Craig Skeffington
  • 2nd Place–Brunswick High School, directed by Michael Scarpone
  • 3rd Place–Noble High School, directed by Mark Mumme.

In addition to these ordinals, the following schools had students that received outstanding musician trophies:

  • George Stevens Academy
  • Houlton High School
  • John Bapst High School
  • Ellsworth High School
  • MDI
  • York High School
  • Fryberg Academy
  • Nokomis High School
  • Brewer High School
  • Westbrook high School
  • Greely High School
  • South Portland High School
  • Thornton Academy
  • Brunswick High School

Congratulations to all of the participants!

This past weekend, Saturday March 23rd, the MMEA Middle School Instrumental Jazz Festival took place at Stearns High School in Millinocket. Once again, audiences were treated to the reason there are so many excellent High School Jazz Bands in the State of Maine. Excellent student musicianship was apparent in these groups. Again, there were 4 divisions, with a total of 33 bands representing 30 different schools from throughout the state.

Following are the results from Divisions I and II:

In Division I:

  • First Place–Falmouth Middle School Jazz  Band, under the direction of Jerry Barry
  • 2nd Place–Noble Middle School Jazz Band, under the direction of Marilyn Bachelder and 3rd Place–Greely Middle School Jazz Band, under the direction of Scott Thurston.

In Division II:

  • First Place–Lenonard Middle School Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Shianne Priest
  • 2nd Place–Brewer Community School under the direction of Lanissa Nadeau
  • 3rd Place–Reeds Brook Middle School Jazz Band, under the direction of Becky Mallory

Complete results of outstanding musician awards and Divisions III and IV will be posted soon.

Next weekend, vocalists will take the stage in Ellsworth for the MMEA State Vocal Jazz Festival. On Friday, March 30th, Middle School Show Choirs will compete against one another and on Saturday, March 31st, High School Show Choirs and High School Jazz Choirs will compete.

If you are looking for an enjoyable way to spend your weekend, I strongly recommend that you find your way to Ellsworth High School. The students are sure to impress you, and I will have my own group there, so perhaps I will see you in Ellsworth!

Thank you so much to music educator Pam Kinsey for this post!


Department News Release

March 21, 2012

Bowen lauds Ed Committee vote on teacher effectiveness

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Contact:   David Connerty-Marin, 207-624-6880/831-3313

The Legislature’s Education Committee voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon in favor of LD 1858, a bill that would require schools to adopt teacher and principal evaluation systems.

“Of all the education bills this session, this one has the potential to positively impact education more than any other,” Bowen said. “The bill goes to the very heart of what we know has the greatest impact on learning: the effectiveness of teachers and school leaders. The best curriculum and learning materials in the world are of no use to us unless we have effective educators in our schools. Supporting great teaching and school leadership is what this bill is all about.”

The Education Committee has supported efforts to promote improved standards for students and now follows suit with clearer standards for teachers. The Maine Department of Education will work with many groups to develop guidelines and standards for evaluation systems, but the systems themselves will be developed or adopted at the local level.

“I appreciate the give and take with the Maine Education Association and legislators,” Bowen said. “It made this bill better by underscoring its true purpose – to improve the ways in which we prepare, support, and evaluate teachers.”

The committee approved LD 1865, which enhances career and technical education, by a 10-1 vote earlier this week. Both bills are part of Gov. Paul LePage’s education agenda and will likely go before the full Legislature in the next week or two.

Two more bills are part of the Administration’s agenda. One deals with public and private school choice options, the other with allowing funding for religious schools.  Those measures will be discussed by the committee on Thursday.

Information about all four bills, including links to the bill language and the commissioner’s testimony, can be found online at

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