Project History

In the fall of 2010, Maine DOE received its first TIF grant (TIF 3), and the MSFE initiative was implemented in 23 Maine schools. These schools, serving 5,500 students, embarked on a continuing and wide-ranging program to tie together rigorous professional development for 450 teachers, constructive evaluation systems designed to help them improve their practice, and performance bonuses to reward them for student success.

The participating Maine schools are working closely with the Maine DOE and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the nonprofit organization based in Arlington, Va., that is coordinating the TIF 3 grant award.


Educator evaluation and professional growth

As part of MSFE’s TIF 3 venture, the 23 participating schools—which are drawn from five districts, both rural and urban—have been working to develop evaluation instruments for staff. These measures will take students' academic growth and achievement into account and will offer teachers a path to continuous improvement.

The Maine DOE developed the MSFE Evaluation and Professional Growth Rubric in collaboration with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and teachers and leaders from across Maine’s five TIF 3 districts. The MSFE Rubric is a Maine-specific description of effective teaching practice built upon the National Board’s 17 Standards for Accomplished Teachers. These standards are organized into five larger headings titled Core Propositions. The MSFE Rubric guides the self-assessment and goal-setting process, the collection of evidence throughout the annual evaluation cycle, feedback from peer observers, and standards-level ratings of teacher performance.

The MSFE Rubric will be refined based on the feedback and experiences of the TIF 3 Maine Schools for Excellence teachers, principals and professional developers. Details regarding the extent of revisions are forthcoming, with version 2.0 of the MSFE Rubric scheduled for release in July 2013.

I have been a school leader for over 25 years. In the past three years, I have spent more time learning and reflecting on effective teaching and how I can support it than I have in my entire career. Working collaboratively across roles to define effective teaching practice has emphasized our common goal of student learning. The opportunity to view and analyze classroom practice with my fellow administrators has sharpened my understanding of evidence rather than judgment. The work overall has given teachers and administrators a common language to discuss classroom practice.

—Susan B. Martin, Chief Academic Officer, Lewiston School Department


New professional opportunities

In addition to standards-based professional development, the MSFE initiative is designed to promote new professional opportunities for educators.

For example, the TIF 3 grant makes funds available to pay teachers stipends for enrolling in Take One! professional development and earning National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification.

The project also offers performance bonuses to teams of teachers and principals to reward them when they meet and exceed data-driven goals they set for students' achievement.

Furthermore, educators can earn incentives when they accept leadership roles within their schools. Teachers, for example, can mentor newcomers to the field or facilitate collaboration among colleagues by leading professional learning communities. Participating educators can earn annual TIF bonuses of up to $7,500.


Attracting and retaining high-quality teachers

The Maine Schools for Excellence project aims to help participating schools address staffing challenges, in part by making funds available to offer incentives to newly hired educators teaching hard-to-staff subjects or teaching in hard-to-staff regions. The project also makes resources available so that districts can fund highly trained mentors who guide new teachers through their first years on the job.


Performance-based pay

During the five-year term of the initiative, participating school districts will work to develop sustainable, performance-based pay systems that rely on multiple measures for determining pay and that emphasize and encourage continued professional growth for educators.

For additional information, please visit the MSFE Questions & Answers page or submit an inquiry to As the project evolves, MSFE will be sharing useful information, including model rubrics, templates and technical guides. These tools will be beneficial to all Maine school districts and will be readily available on the MSFE Resources page.