Accountability & Improvement System

Maine Accountability System Decision Tree--Year OneESEA Flexibility/Waiver

Note: To enlarge the Decision Tree to the right, click the image.

Maine has been granted a two-year waiver from school improvement provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

This flexibility from the United State Department of Education will allow Maine to implement its own statewide ambitious yet achievable plan to improve educational outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps and increase the quality of instruction. As a result, Maine will cut in half the percentage of non-proficient students at each school over the next six years.

The State will do that through the continued implementation of the Maine Learning Results, a set of high standards--recently updated to include the Common Core--that ensure students graduate college and career ready. The Maine Department of Education will also help local school districts develop and deploy educator evaluation and support systems to be piloted in 2014-15 and fully implemented in 2015-16.

At the heart of the State’s plan and the subject of the 11 months of negotiations with U.S. DOE since the waiver application was submitted last September is a system of differentiated recognition, accountability and support for Maine’s 380 Title I-served schools. Schools will be placed in one of five categories: priority, focus, monitor, progressing and meeting. Unlike the original NCLB measures, Maine’s approved plan will distinguish schools not just by student proficiency but also progress. These tiers will allow the State to most intensively target its support to the schools that past performance shows need it the most, though improvement resources will be available to all public schools. Maine will also recognize high progressing and high performing schools starting next year.

Maine joins 39 other states that have successfully applied for flexibility since 2011 because the accountability requirements of NCLB--including 100 percent student proficiency in math and reading by 2014--were universally unobtainable and not sensitive to the individual challenges of schools and states, especially rural ones like ours.

The process for developing this new accountability and improvement system for Maine began with a series of forums, stakeholder meetings, a survey and other public outreach in September 2011. The Department sent a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan in February of 2012 that laid out the State's plans for crafting a new accountability and improvement system and submitted its application in September of that same year. The waiver was formally granted in August of 2013.