MEEC Meeting Summary - July 9, 2012

9:00 AM- 3:00 PM; Burton Cross State Office Building, Room 103

Members present: Linda Bleile, Steve Bowen, Jessica Laliberte (for James Cote), Brian Doore, Becky Fles, Susan Grondin, Scott Harrison (pm), Maureen King, Grace Leavitt, Linda McLeod, Mary Paine, Sylvia Pease, Nancy Perkins (by phone in am), Lois Kilby-Chesley (for John Soifer)

Staff present: Deb Friedman

Briefings on Member Attendance at Conferences and Seminars

Members Grace Leavitt, Lois Kilby-Chesley and Susan Grondin attended the NEA Representative Assembly recently and had a chance to discuss teacher evaluation with reps from other states. Concerns expressed by those states that are ahead of Maine in their development process: this takes a lot of time and resources; it takes the focus off teaching and directs it to evaluation; method of incorporating student data can be problematic e.g., Delaware assigns data to staff that have no influence over those students; consider what sequence of events should be, e.g., in Minnesota, principal evaluation is taking place first, so they can be trained in evaluation process. Members have contacts in other states and can direct questions to them as the Council proceeds in its work.

Members Barbara Moody and Maureen King attended a meeting arranged by the National Comprehensive Center on Teacher Quality (NCCTQ). They urged members to review the Center’s website for excellent resources. (and to not confuse NCCTQ with NCTQ).

Discussion of Role of Co-chairs and Facilitator

Commissioner Bowen explained why he had asked a facilitator to run meetings of the Council: a facilitator keeping track of time and keeping members on task allows the co-chairs to participate more fully in the conversation. He explained that the co-chairs will be setting the meeting agenda, but he recommended that the Council allow Mark to facilitate meetings. Members were comfortable with that.

Review draft language regarding MEEC Decision-Making Process

Members reviewed Draft language regarding the decision-making process, which members had agreed to in concept at the meeting of June 20th. Several members had concerns about the portion of the language that states: “We agree to support decisions once reached outside our meetings”

Members who represent organizations said that their organizations need to be able to express their opinions on Council recommendations, and cannot be bound by agreements reached in the Council. Discussion among members brought out the following points:

  • The integrity of the Council’s process and work is lessened if members aren’t supportive of the Council’s consensus decisions
  • An analogy is for members serving on a school board where, once a decision is reached, that’s the decision of the board and people acknowledge it as such even if they disagree
  • Other members said the board analogy was not appropriate that serving as a stakeholder on a group like the Council is different from serving on a school board
  • Another member raised the analogy of contract negotiations where those involved try to convince their members of the value of the proposed contract even if they expressed opposition during the negotiation
  • Members agreed that part of their responsibility, if they support Council decisions, is to work to convince their constituents that the decisions are good ones, but that the constituents and the organization have to be able to determine their own position on those decisions.

Members considered a possible alternative statement: “We agree to support Council consensus decisions, while retaining perspectives as an individual or an organization.” Members wordsmithed this language a bit, but then decided that the group needed time to consider other wording, so the issue will be added again to the next agenda.

Other comments on language related to the first bullet as follows:

“Our intent is to reach consensus regarding decision-making and we will work (Commissioner Bowen suggestion:will work are committed to working) exhaustively to do so and, when appropriate, ensure that varying perspectives ( some members suggest: or concerns) are included in our final report.”

Review of Decision Matrix

Staff reviewed the Draft Decision Matrix with the Council. Members expressed the following:

  • The matrix should include a space for the “pros” and “cons” of various options; this could be added to the column of “initial thoughts and clarifying questions”
  • Add “Models” to Information Needs, since looking at existing models in other states will be useful on all issues
  • Additional Issue: Status of ratings public information or not?
  • Additional Issue: Monitoring local implementation of evaluation and support systems
  • Additional Issue: Analyzing the usefulness of the system comparing evaluation results with student achievement outcomes is the model a good measure of effectiveness?

Defining “Teacher” and “Principal” for Purposes of this Law

Staff presented information showing that Title 20-A defines “principal” but does not define “teacher.” Maine DOE certification rules (Chapter 115) define “administrator” and “educational specialist” and also include a list of “teachers.”

Members discussed factors to consider in determining the breadth of coverage of the law with regard to teachers:

  • Are existing professional practice standards and existing student learning measures relevant to a broader category than classroom teachers?
  • Does the individual “instruct students”?
  • Consider resources and capacity to include broader range
  • Do the evaluators have technical expertise to evaluate nurses, etc?
  • Look at DOE Definition of Highly Qualified teachers applies to K-12 content teachers
  • Look at who’s covered in the teacher contract more than classroom teachers, for purposes of due process having different evaluation systems for people covered by the same contract can complicate matters, including negotiations, grievance and representation
  • Look at the spirit of the system the purpose is for professional growth, to improve student achievement many staff other than classroom teachers affect student outcomes
  • Will different “tiers” of staff be created if the definition is too narrow some might think they’re less important if they’re not part of the system; others might be relieved
  • The staff has to have observable, measurable practices to be evaluated can’t do that with a counselor, e.g.,
  • What about non-instructional personnel who occasionally teach in classroom
  • Should we determine applicability of the system based on a staff person’s job title, or their function?
  • Including too many categories of staff may cause the Council to skew the system, or create an overly-complex system, just to accommodate those other staff
  • Excluding staff from the definition of “teacher” doesn’t mean that they won’t be evaluated; just not required to be evaluated under this system

Members discussed whether to start with only classroom teachers, or to start with a more comprehensive definition of “teachers” and then consider eliminating categories that seem inappropriate or unworkable as the Council proceeds with its work.

A motion was made (by Brian Doore) and seconded (by Becky Fles) that the Council proceed with its work by including in the “teacher” definition all positions listed in Sections 1, 2 and 3 of DOE Rule Chapter 115, but recognizing that further work by the Council is likely to result in the exclusion of some categories. Agreed to by consensus, with some concerns expressed about the grouping being overly broad.


Council members reviewed the definition of “principal” for purposes of general education law. The Council also reviewed the Certification rules categories of “administrator certificates” and moved, consistent with the teacher definition, to include a broad view of “principal,” with the option to exclude categories if further discussion leads them to that conclusion. Motion by Barbara Moody and seconded by Brian Doore to include all Section 4 Administrator Certificates except Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent

Discussion of Uniformity versus Flexibility

Members discussed some principles to consider in whether the system should be more uniform, or provide for greater local flexibility

  • Having a model can help with the problem of limited capacity/resources
  • What is the relationship between professional practice standards used for this purpose and induction/mentoring standards, and teacher prep standards (InTASC)
  • What will be the requirements for getting DOE approval, if local flexibility is allowed
  • What constitutes an effective teacher in one SAU should be the same as another SAU; similar standards, like we expect of students
  • It’s OK to have a state minimum, but school boards should be allowed to add additional factors that relate to local school goals
  • Maybe have uniform data, but allow locals to use the data in different ways; this way, you can compare apples to apples, but districts can use data in locally-determined ways
  • Local determination enhances local “ownership” of systems
  • Uniformity helps ensure that expectations are clear
  • Training and professional development opportunities are greater in a uniform system
  • What’s the capacity of DOE to monitor different systems?
  • Uniform evaluation systems and standards might make it easier to use evaluations in place of recertification
  • If you have a variety of models working in the State, you can compare and see what’s most effective
  • Having comparable data enables us to evaluate the effectiveness of systems

Discussion of Whole Group vs. Subcommittee

All members felt that continuing to work as a whole group was preferred more interaction, more perspectives

For Next Meeting July 20th

Discuss Standards of Professional Practice Teachers in am; Principals in pm

Members asked for the following materials to be provided to them:

Models: Danielson; InTASC; NBPTS; crosswalk from SCEE; ISLLC, NB standards for principals; ValEd?;

NCCTQ articles on how to develop systems?

Linda Darling-Hammond portion of article on standards-based versus performance-based evaluations

Information from MEDMS on what’s used in Maine schools now

Nancy P; Sue W?

Next meeting how we measure whether teacher meets standards?

Have additional resources/ subjects in case this takes less time than expected

Comments from the Public

Paul Hamilton advised the group to consider the research on the connection between observable data/standards and student performance. To be fair, the evaluation system has to make it clear to teachers what’s expected of them

Parking Lot

  • How will evaluations be challenged if it’s not in a contract, it can’t be grieved.
  • What is the impact of Common Core implementation on evaluations a teacher may be effective in the current system, but struggle with new curriculum
  • How would schools implement the statutory provision saying that 2 consecutive ineffectiveness ratings are just cause for nonrenewal you have to notify teachers in February if you are non-renewing their contract, but they won’t have had 2 full years of evaluation/improvement planning