Posts Tagged ‘standards based’


The Survey Says

October 14, 2014

Information on the standards-based /proficiency system and teacher effectiveness

MAAI Logo_Black_TxtCtr3LIn early October, 2014 the leadership team of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) had questions about major policy questions, and commissioned an informal poll on standards-based/proficiency systems and teacher evaluation. Nine questions were asked (7 listed below), five of them about the policies, two of them were about assessment literacy and leadership in assessment, and the final two asked about the kind of support MAAI could provide. As of October 10 there were 173 responses to the survey. Thank you to those who took the time to respond!

For approximately half the respondents work on the standards-based / proficiency system is still at the beginning stages, and a third of the respondents are just on their way. Just over half the arts educators are involved in professional development and professional learning communities to work on the system overall, compared with just under half who are doing similar work on standards-based / proficiency in the visual and performing arts.

Almost two-thirds of the respondents indicated that they were just beginning to work on the teacher evaluation system; only 12 out of 173 respondents claimed that they had a fully implemented teacher evaluation system. Over two-thirds of the respondents claimed that they had no involvement in the teacher evaluation system.

One of the key areas of need for the development of these policies is classroom assessment literacy. Less than one third of the arts educators felt confident about their assessment literacy to develop the standards-based / proficiency system. Furthermore, almost sixty percent of arts educators indicated that the leadership in their schools was not providing a clear stance on the standards-based / proficiency system.

What are the big take-aways? There is work to do on standards-based / proficiency, and even more to do on teacher evaluation. A key to success will be the overall assessment literacy of teachers and administrators, and MAAI is poised to provide professional development in the coming year.

A great big thank you to Leadership Team member and USM faculty Jeff Beaudry who contributed his expertise to creating the survey as well as providing the blog with the findings. Next week information will be provided on the last two questions! Please know that if you didn’t have a chance to contribute your information this time to this survey you will have another chance in the future.

  1. Where is your district with regard to the standards-based/proficiency system?
  2. Are you directly involved with a professional learning community on the development of your school/district’s standards-based/proficiency system?
  3. Are you directly involved with arts educators in a professional learning community on the development of your VPA standards-based/proficiency system?
  4. Where is your district with regard to the implementation of the Effective Educator (teacher evaluation) system?
  5. Are you directly involved with arts educators in a professional learning community on the development of your VPA teacher evaluation system?
  6. Do you believe that you have the knowledge about high quality classroom assessment and assessment literacy to develop a standards-based/proficiency system?
  7. Overall how would you characterize your school’s administrative leadership on assessment literacy in the arts?

Standards Based/Proficiency Survey

October 1, 2014

5-minute survey

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 5.27.06 AMThe Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) Leadership Team has put together a survey that will take you about 5 minutes. We are interested in knowing where you and your school district are on critical topics including standards-based and proficiency education. Please take the time to provide answers to the 8 questions. The information provided will be used to guide MAAI in responding to the needs of the field and in creating resources to assist Arts educators. The window of opportunity to complete this is one week – the survey closes on October 8 at 11:59 pm. The data collected will be shared on this Maine Arts Education blog in the near future.

Please go to and type in the code 672562 to complete the survey. If you have any questions please contact Argy Nestor Thanks for participating!


In Today’s News

August 13, 2014

Maine’s teachers of the year need your help so our students can succeed


Kate Smith

In today’s Bangor’s Daily News you can read an article about the revised Maine Teacher of the Year program – now for the first time we have county teachers of the year. Representing Franklin County is the Central Elementary School, South Berwick music teacher Kate Smith. Kate is also one of the Phase IV Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s (MAAI) Teacher Leaders. We’re proud of you Kate – CONGRATULATIONS!

The article includes how important it is that each of us has a responsibility. Educators, families, administrators, students, and community members all have a role to play in this standards-based school environment. Gone are the days that students could move along the school track from grade level to grade level getting pieces. The proficiency-based learning environment is about all kids! If you’re wondering how to get started or have questions about the work you are doing in your arts classrooms/schools/districts you can find helpful resources on the new MAAI website, specifically in the section called Proficiency Toolbox that you can find at this link.

To read the entire Bangor Daily News article please click here.


Kate with Village Elementary School, York, music teacher Cynthia Keating. Kate and Cynthia will be collaborating to present their workshop for phase IV of the MAAI.


Standards-Based Education

August 22, 2013

Yes, again!

For years we’ve been talking about Standards-Based Education and now due to LD1422 the conversation is taking a giant leap forward. But what does standards-based mean? And, how about proficiency-based, student-centered learning and, standards-referenced? In April of 2012 I wrote a post on this topic but recently the question came up again asking for clarity so this post is provided for that reason.

I feel like educators are continuously trying to get a better understanding of these terms and of course, the bottom line is how does this impact teaching and learning? I remember during many years of my 30 years of teaching sifting through articles, research, and communicating about what I was reading with colleagues to try and make sense of education topics. That hasn’t changed for me working at the Maine Department of Education. The only difference is that much more information “comes across my desk”.

Yesterday I was honored to be part of the interviews for the finalist for the 2014 Maine Teacher of the Year. The process for selection is almost a year long so the three finalists were thrilled to be there and the conversation about teaching and learning was wonderful. I was reminded of the passion teachers have for the important work they do. The next teacher of the year will be announced at a surprise assembly at the teachers school in September. Congratulations to all three finalists! They are grade 4 teacher Mary Graziano from Hartland Consolidated School, grades 6 and 7 ELA teacher Karen MacDonald, from King MIddle School, and kindergarten teacher Suzen Polk-Hoffses from Milbridge Elementary School.

There was a question about standards-based education and I liked the answer the teacher gave which included “It’s not about the grade, it’s about the learning.” Earlier this year I listened to Cole Castorina, a student at York High School say: ” I know that I know it and I have confidence that I understand the concept. I didn’t just learn it for the assessment.” Cole and 2 other students were interviewed for the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s video series. You can access the York High School video with music teachers Rob Westerberg and Dan Sovetsky and principal Bob Stevens at this link. It is one thing to look at the chart below and another to hear students, teachers, and administrators articulate what it’s all about!

If you are trying to understand the difference between standards-based and standards-referenced researcher Robert Marzano has a diagram that provides clarity that you might find helpful.

Screen shot 2013-08-22 at 8.03.27 AM


Maine Association for Middle Level

October 29, 2012


This past Thursday and Friday I attended the MAMLE conference at Sugarloaf where arts educators were well received in the workshops they presented on a variety of topics. I have included a bit of information below on each of the sessions where the arts teachers presented.

Allied Arts in the Standards World

Sacopee Valley Middle School art teacher and Maine Arts Assessment Initiative teacher leader Danette Kerrigan and Medomak Middle School music teacher Julie Sanborn participated in a panel presentation on the work they are doing at their respective middle schools and in their classrooms. The other panel members Lisa Hogan from Mt. Ararat, Barbara Greenstone from Boothbay and Phil Brookhouse from MLTI also made connections to the arts. Friend of arts education, Jill Spencer facilitated the session.

Panel members: Lisa Hogan, Julie Sanborn, Barbara Greenstone, Phil Brookhouse, Danette Kerrigan

Steel Drum Band

Julie also presented a session with the Pantastics, the school’s steel drum band. The band performs at community events and has traveled to other schools and events in and out of Maine. The students played several pieces at the start of the conference as well as in an individual workshop. Other middle school teachers were invited to play one of the drums as well. The members of the band promised to write a blog post on their involvement playing the steel drums. Look for that in the future.

How Can I Teach for Creativity?

Danette was joined by MAAI leadership team member Bronwyn Sale from Bates College for a session on creativity. They made quite a team with Bronwyn presenting foundational information on the creative process, creativity, and creative problem solving. Danette shared the practical components of addressing the topic in a classroom setting and provided participants with hands-on exercises including SCAMPER which stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Magnify, Put to Other Uses, Eliminate (or Minify), and Rearrange (or Reverse).

Bronwyn Sale and Danette Kerrigan

Service Learning and Music Appreciation

Leonard Middle School music teacher Shianne Priest had students join her to share a service learning project that she her music appreciation class has undertaken for two years now. The 8th graders this past year raised $1600 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They collaborated to write the lyrics for a song that 9th grader Lily Muscatell took a step further and wrote the music for and performed. Selling the CD was one part but hearing about their learning and how the experience affected them was amazing.

Shianne and Lily listen while the 8th graders explained the project.

Thank you to everyone for their fabulous work and sharing the opportunities that you afford Maine students!


Arts Integration

October 23, 2012

In the best interest of students

Some of you are aware that the discussion at the Maine Department of Education (MDOE) is on LD 1422, the high school proficiency legislation. We are discussing the role of the Department in assisting school districts in implementation of this bill. We are looking at defining proficiency and what this looks like in standards-based systems in student-centered classrooms. Our conversations include how to deliver instruction in an integrated fashion.

In a September ASCD article independent consultant Christa Treichel reviews a project that brings educators together and breaks down the “silos” of content, classroom, and traditional teaching methods. The collaborative culture is used to improve student learning.

The school and teachers are located in west-central Minnesota and the arts educators are from the Perpich Center for Arts Education. The arts integration program uses “collaborative culture” to improve student learning. The teachers from different disciplines work side-by-side looking at the standards, plan and deliver, and assess arts-integrated lessons.

You can read the article to learn more about this Minnesota program by clicking here.



Competency Based, Student Centered, Standards Based Education

April 29, 2012


Standards have been around for a long time but during the last (about a) year the conversation has become more serious about what that means. As I’ve said before, the ground is shifting beneath us, and the transition of education to meeting the needs of all students is more focused.

The term standards-based, competency based, and student centered are terms that we are hearing more and more. The terms are not just for high school students but include elementary, middle, AND high schools. So, what is the different now from 1997 when the state originally adopted the standards document, Maine Learning Results? I see three differences:

  1. The Maine legislature has put in place LD 1422 which states that the graduating class will leave high school having successfully shown that they have achieved the standards. It will no longer be determined by completing each year, K-12, of schooling. Not based on seat time, but showing proficiency of meeting the standards.
  2. The Maine Department of Education recently released the strategic plan called Education Evolving: Maine’s Plan for Putting Learners First which “sets out objectives and action steps for building an education system in Maine that meets the needs of all learners, from early childhood into adulthood, and prepares them for college, careers, and civic life.”
  3. Educators who have been around a long time participating in many conversations are more than ready to take action. The Maine Coalition for Customized Learning which started as a handful of school districts working with the Reinventing Schools Coalition work is now up to 20 Maine school districts. They are working collaboratively to share and create resources to continue to move in the standards based direction. The first cohort started in July 2009.

Not to long ago I read in the news two articles that provide information on what is happening across the country with education in this standards based/proficiency based/ competency based environment. I hope you will have the time to read about our neighboring state, New Hampshire, to learn about their work in an article called N.H. Schools Embrace Competency-Based Learning written by Catherine Gewertz and published online February 7, 2012 (Education Week). And, the second article called ‘Competency’ Approach Challenges Colo. District written by Christine A. Samuels and published online March 26, 2012 (Education Week) provides a look at Adams 50 who has been working on a standards based system for several years.


Summer Institute Planning Meeting

April 27, 2011

Decisions were made

Last Thursday we had an all day planning meeting for the Teacher Leader Summer Institute for Arts Assessment. We completed our goal of creating a rough draft of the summer schedule. Maine and arts educators are fortunate to have a team that has committed to carrying out this important work. The planning members are:

  • Rob Westerberg
  • Catherine Ring
  • Jeff Beaudry
  • Bronwyn Sale
  • Carol Trimble
  • Shalimar Poulin

The summer institute will be held for four days in August and we envision that the professional development opportunity will include three components:

  1. Understanding assessment in the arts/what does quality assessment in the arts mean in a standards based arts education environment. What are the principles of quality assessment?
  2. Leadership which includes three parts: a. teacher leaders in schools b. leading workshops  c. communicating with school administration
  3. Learning how to utilize technology as a tool for assessment

Planning team hard at work!

If you haven’t visited the Maine arts assessment wiki it is located at Our overall goal is to create an environment in Maine where assessment in arts education is an integral part of the work all arts educators do to deepen student learning in the arts. 

The leadership team has been selected and their names will be listed in the near future! We were very impressed with the quality of the applicants and look forward to working with them. If you have resources and/or samples of assessment tools please begin thinking about sending them for others to read and learn from the exciting work you do!

Just a reminder that you will have the opportunity to ontribute and learn at the statewide arts education conference scheduled for October 7th!

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