MEEC Meeting Summary - May 29, 2012

1:00 - 4:00 PM; Burton Cross State Office Building, Room 541


Council Members: Commissioner Bowen, Grace Leavitt, Scott Harrison, Sylvia Pease, Linda Bleile, Susan Grondin, John Soifer, Nancy Perkins (via Tanberg), Becky Fles, Maureen King, Brian Doore, Barbara Moody, Mary Paine

Alternates/Public: Ken Coville, Rob Walker, Chris Galgay, Dick Durost, Jeanne Crocker, Vicki Wallack, Tim Walton

DOE Staff: Meghan Southworth, Mark Kostin, Deb Friedman

Charge to the Commission; Relationship between LD 1858 and ESEA Waiver

Following introductions and a review of the day’s agenda, DOE Policy and Programs Director Deb Friedman gave an overview of the charge to the Council. The overview included a summary of Public Law 2011, chapter 635 (LD 1858), which created the Council, and an explanation of the relationship between the work of the Council and the development of an ESEA waiver application by the Maine DOE.

One of the 4 elements of a new school accountability and improvement system under ESEA is an educator effectiveness and professional support system that meets certain criteria. The role of the EEC in development of the waiver is to develop an educator effectiveness and support system that meets the provisions of LD 1858 and the standards under the ESEA Flexibility Guidance. There is no conflict between the 2, since LD 1858 was drafted to follow the basics of the ESEA Flexibility Guidance.

Background on LD 1858

Commissioner Bowen gave background on the development of LD 1858. When the USDOE offered states an opportunity to apply for flexibility under ESEA, one of the required elements was development of the educator effectiveness system. While Maine was not prepared to apply for flexibility in the 1st round of applications (due in November 2011), the Commissioner began discussing with stakeholders the possibility of applying in a later round. This would require development of this system.

Governor LePage was also interested in educator effectiveness; good work was being done in some school districts in Maine, but it was not universal. Many states were deeply involved in this work already, and provided models of systems and processes for developing systems. Colorado had just passed comprehensive legislation, and Commissioner Bowen used the structure of Colorado’s bill to create LD 1858. The original bill didn’t contain the EEC, but the intent all along was to create a Council perhaps by Executive Order, like in Colorado. When the Education Committee reviewed LD 1858, the members wanted the Council to be created in law, so that provision was added to the bill in the committee process.

Commission Workload and Timing; General Comments

The ESEA waiver application is due September 6th, so whatever is needed by that date should be the EEC’s first priority in scheduling. At the time of submitting the waiver application, a State is not required to have an entire EEsystem in place; it must, however, have a solid plan for developing that system with the input of stakeholders, and must have a plan to ensure that LEA’s implement the locally-developed plans.

DOE will provide specific information about exactly what’s needed from the EEC to meet the waiver submission requirement.

State Prescription versus State Guidelines

Members had a brief discussion about the need to determine whether the system developed under LD 1858 will be a uniform system that all districts would follow, or would be a set of guidelines that allow for local flexibility. One question is what “grain size” the EEC will work with how much detail will be decided upon by the group.

Some members expressed concern about the impact of this on their existing systems, some of which have been developed recently after extensive work and negotiations. Commissioner Bowen said that it’s not his intent to make districts throw out their current systems, as long as those systems meet certain standards. We need to find a balance between prescription and local options based on guidelines. The EEC will want to hear from local schools about what their current systems look like; that can help inform the guidelines or system that the EEC will recommend.

Council Meeting Norms

Mark Kostin presented proposed meeting norms. Additions to the proposed norms include the following:

  • Welcome discourse and debate; not every disagreement should be considered bad practice
  • Take advantage of national, regional, state and local resources
  • Members have to commit to doing their homework review materials, etc
  • Check “group-think” against alternative views
  • Beware the unintended consequences
  • Consider local and state capacity to implement systems

With regard to absences of appointed members, members agree that alternates should be allowed to sit in. It’s the member’s responsibility to ensure that the alternate is up-to-speed on the meeting content and to receive a briefing on the missed meeting.

At the next meeting, members will consider the process for voting on recommendations.

Dick Durost (observer) asked for clarification on the impact of the EEC decisions. Deb Friedman explained that the EEC is charged with making recommendations to the Commissioner of Education by November 1, 2012, and the Commission is responsible for proposing major substantive rules to implement LD 1858. the EEC’s recommendations are not binding on the Commissioner, or the Legislature, but will be used to inform those decisions.

Overview of ESEA Flexibility Waiver Requirements

Mark Kostin gave an overview of key requirements for the ESEA Flexibility Waiver. He discussed the critical nature of stakeholder involvement in creation of the waiver application. He described 3 types of stakeholders those whose work is directly impacted by the accountability system (teachers, administrators); recipients of public education services, especially students who typically underperform other students; and the general public. All types of stakeholders will be involved in different ways in developing the new accountability system.

Other elements are adoption and implementation of College and Career Ready Standards (such as the Common Core standards for ELA and math); establishing metrics and measures of student achievement to identify schools needing improvement (which may include growth models and may recognize different starting points for different schools); development of intervention and support methods for struggling schools; and educator effectiveness and support systems.

Principles, Questions and Needs

Members were asked to develop lists of (1) Principles that should be followed in designing an EE system; (2) Questions that members feel need to be answered; and (3) What information needs they have to be able to develop this system. Members were asked to think individually, then discuss their thoughts with another member, then to share with the entire group. The following is a list derived from the sharing:

Principles (draft)

  1. The professionals being evaluated play a key role in the process from the creation through the implementation. It is a collaborative endeavor
  2. The guidelines established for the system must provide both adequate clarity and ensure adequate flexibility
  3. Consider the set of principles established by the MSSA
  4. The system must be equitable and must differentiate based on educators’ roles, the content areas for which they are responsible, and the students they teach
  5. Thoroughly examine ideas and beware of unintended consequences
  6. Consider the implementation capacity human and financial of the LEAs and the SEA in developing the model. There must be adequate of time and resources to implement successfully.
  7. Must be sufficient and adequate training leading to understanding and inter-rater reliability among those conducting evaluations
  8. Guidelines must be research-based
  9. Let’s not reinvent the wheel
  10. Training, support, coaching, and professional development provided must be designed to follow-up on evaluations and support educators’ improved instruction
  11. Effective teaching equates with effective instruction
  12. An effective educator evaluation system requires all stakeholders to collaborate
  13. We ought to be able to say about everything we do “ and this is good for children because”
  14. System must be behaviorally and technically sound
  15. The intent is to improve instruction

Questions (initial)

  1. How do teachers demonstrate learning dependent upon their content area assignment (i.e. all 8 content areas of the MLRs and Special Education)?
  2. What is an effective educator?
  3. How do we determine student growth? What different metrics will we use?
  4. Where will the funding come from? How much will be available in terms of existing EPS allocations and possible additional allocations provided by LD 1858?
  5. What is our theory of action?
  6. How does participating in a 2012-2013 Maine Schools of Excellence pilot impact decisions possibly being made later on under LD 1858?
  7. How will we ensure sufficient time is available for professional development related to evaluation?
  8. How does this work interface with the state certification system, especially given the decrease of support for new teachers?
  9. What do we mean by an educated student and what are the implications for measuring this?
  10. How do we recognize other factors in student learning?
  11. How will we make sure there is available time to conduct the evaluations for both the evaluator and the professional being evaluated?
  12. How can we learn quickly from pilot districts already engaged in this work? What lessons have they learned? What challenges did they encounter?
  13. How do we engage the professionals we represent?
  14. How do we understand and account for the dual nature of the role of principals in this system as both professional being evaluated and conducting evaluations?

Needs (beginning list)

  1. To better understand what we mean by local flexibility in the context of statewide guidelines
  2. Get a copy of the latest INTASC learning progressions
  3. Benefit from the work of other states and groups
  4. Reassure pilot districts and clarify the impact of LD 1858 on their work
  5. Reassure everyone that the intent of this work is to improve instruction

Final Thoughts; Questions

One member asked DOE to provide guidance to the field on the impact of LD 1858 on teachers who are being evaluated under existing evaluation systems, especially the Teacher Incentive Fund grant. One provision of LD 1858 states that receipt of an “ineffective” rating for 2 consecutive years constitutes “just cause” for nonrenewal of a teacher’s contract. She wondered whether ratings being provided by systems not approved under LD 1858 would count as one of those 2 consecutive years. Another member was concerned that if the evaluations don’t count until programs are approved, is there then a moratorium on evaluations until programs are approved? Deb Friedman said that she would review LD 1858 to determine the answer to those questions and would have DOE provide guidance.

Next Meeting: Wednesday, June 20th, 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM; Burton Cross State Office Building, Room 103A.