Questions & Answers

Please see the following commonly asked questions and answers about MSFE, educator evaluation and supports, and educator opportunities and rewards.

Topics & Questions

Maine Schools for Excellence

Educator Evaluation and Supports for Teachers and Leaders

Educator Opportunities and Rewards

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Who is overseeing this project?

Teachers, administrators, school board members, parents and students all have a hand in overseeing the Schools for Excellence initiative at both the local and state levels. Each of the participating school districts has assembled a local body comprising teachers, administrators, school board members, parents, teachers' association representatives, community members and others to oversee local implementation MSFE. Additionally, there are two state-level groups—the Executive Advisory Committee and the Statewide Practitioners’ Group—that allow for cross-district collaboration and problem solving.

Which schools and districts are participating in MSFE?

The MSFE initiative comprises two distinct phases that are closely connected but that involve two different groups of schools and districts. MSFE is funded through the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF). The first TIF grant was awarded to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in 2010, with the Maine DOE as a partner. This is a five-year grant from the U.S. DOE as part of the third round of the TIF grant program (TIF 3). The second TIF grant (also a five-year grant), awarded to Maine DOE in 2012, is part of the fourth round of USED’s TIF grant program (TIF 4)

Schools and districts that do not participate directly in MSFE can benefit from this work by visiting the Resources page to learn more about the products, strategies and systems that are being developed as a result of the initiative.

TIF 3 Participating Districts and Schools

TIF 4 Participating Districts and Schools

Lewiston Public Schools 
Farwell Elementary School, Grades PK–6
Geiger Elementary School, Grades PK–6
Lewiston Middle School, Grades 7–8
Longley Elementary School, Grades PK–6
McMahon Elementary School, Grades PK–6
Montello Elementary School, Grades PK–6
Martell Elementary School, Grade PK-6

Maine School Administrative District 24
Van Buren Elementary School, Grades PK–8
Van Buren High School

Regional School Unit 12 
Somerville Elementary School, Grades K–5
Whitefield Elementary School, Grades K–8
Wiscasset Primary School, Grades K–4
Wiscasset Middle School, Grades 5–8
Wiscasset High School
Chelsea Elementary School K-8
Windsor Elementary School K-8

Regional School Unit 55 
Baldwin Consolidated School, Grades K–4
Cornish Elementary School, Grades K–4
Sacopee Valley Middle School, Hiram, Grades 5–8
South Hiram Elementary School, Grades K–4

Regional School Unit 74 
Carrabec Community School, North Anson, Grades K–8
Garret Schenck School, Anson, Grades PK–4
Solon Elementary School Grades, PK–5
Carrabec High School

Maine School Administrative District 11
Laura E. Richards School
River View Community School
Teresa C. Hamlin Elementary School
Helen Thompson School
Pittston Consolidated School
Gardiner Regional Middle School
Gardiner Area High School

Maine School Administrative District 44
Andover Elementary School
Cresent Park Elementary School
Woodstock Elementary School
Telstar Middle School
Telstar High School

Millinocket School Department
Stearns Junior-Senior High School
Granite Street Elementary School

Regional School Unit 19
Hartland Consolidated
Etna/Dixmont School
Somerset Valley Middle School
Corinna Elementary School
Newport Elementary School
St. Albans Consolidated School
Sebasticook Valley Middle School
Nokomis Regional High School

Is MSFE a project that will transfer to other schools and districts?

The TIF grants that are funding the MSFE initiative do not provide for scaling up the initiative to additional districts. However, the grants require participating districts to develop long-term plans to sustain the new systems they are developing. Participating districts also expect to share the knowledge, evaluation models and other resources they gain with other districts doing similar work going forward.

What is the Teacher Incentive Fund?

TIF was established by the U.S. Department of Education in 2007. Since then, there have been four rounds of TIF grants awarded to over 100 grantees. Initially, TIF focused primarily on innovative teacher compensation models. Over time, however, the program’s focus has shifted to broader human capital management systems, of which teacher pay is only one piece. This shift occurred as lessons were drawn from the successes of the original TIF grantees. Maine is a recipient of the third and fourth rounds of funding (TIF 3 and TIF 4). For more information, visit the Teacher Incentive Fund website.

What will happen to MSFE after the TIF funding runs out?

Although the current TIF grants Maine has received are set to expire after five years, a large part of the current work involves ensuring that the new systems are sustainable. For example, the tools, instruments and protocols that are developed through the project will continue to be available for the long term. Moreover, MSFE is striving to build the capacity of district leaders, school leaders and teachers to maintain the elements of the human capital system developed under MSFE over time. Ongoing efforts will be made to secure additional funding to support MSFE districts and others in recruiting, retaining, developing and rewarding effective teachers and principals.

What are the key components of a comprehensive evaluation system?

MSFE districts are working to develop two aligned educator evaluation programs—the Teacher Evaluation and Professional Growth (TEPG) and the Leadership Evaluation and Professional Growth (LEPG) initiatives. The goal of these programs is to foster continuous improvement in teaching and leadership practices that positively affect student learning. A comprehensive evaluation system supports teachers by providing timely, actionable feedback on teaching practice linked to opportunities for improvement and further development.

The model system being developed by MSFE districts includes the following components:

  • Teacher self-assessment and goal-setting based on agreed-upon measures of student learning
  • Teacher-led collection of evidence
  • Classroom observations conducted by administrators and peers that result in actionable feedback
  • Opportunities for ongoing reflection and conversation about progress toward goals
  • A summative rating on a four-point scale that is connected to placement on a personalized growth plan that includes new performance-related leadership opportunities

While the main components of the evaluation system will be the same across districts, each district will have leeway to tailor various system components.

How does MSFE fit with the recent legislation designated LD 1858, “An Act to Ensure Effective Teaching and School Leadership?”

The work of the MSFE districts is consistent with new Maine legislation that requires school districts to implement a performance evaluation and professional growth system for all teachers and leaders. The elements of this system include standards of professional practice, multiple measures of effectiveness, a rating scale consisting of four levels, and a process for using information from the evaluation to inform professional development. Further, the law requires evaluation of educators on a regular basis, peer review, ongoing training, and formation of a steering committee to continually review and refine the system and process.

How do measures of students’ academic performance fit into teacher evaluations?
According to recent legislation (LD 1858, “An Act To Ensure Effective Teaching and School Leadership”), measures of student learning growth must be included as one of several sources of evidence used to assess teachers’ progress toward their individual goals.

Emerging practices regarding the use of student performance in teacher evaluations suggest that:

  • Student learning is best captured by measures that demonstrate growth between two different points in time, as opposed to achievement at one point in time.
  • Student learning growth measures are not necessarily synonymous with standardized tests; there are many grades and subjects in which student learning growth will be measured by teacher- or district-developed assessments or other forms of evaluation.
  • It is important to ensure that students are accurately linked to teachers and that these links are confirmed by both teachers and principals.

Ultimately, schools will use a variety of measures they determine to be valid and reliable as part of any decision on teacher evaluation and compensation. Those measures will be customized for each teacher based on grade level and content area and may include state assessments such as the Scholastic Aptitude Test or the New England Common Assessment Program, and classroom assessments such as the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills, the Developmental Reading Assessment, and computer-adaptive tests designed by the Northwest Evaluation Association.

Other job performance indicators might include classroom observations, portfolios of teaching accomplishments, student surveys, and graduation and attendance rates.

How do teachers’ evaluations lead to professional growth?

Ongoing, cyclical evaluations will mean that teachers always have a sense of their personal goals and a plan to follow that will lead to improvement based on their goals. Teachers in participating MSFE schools will also benefit from access to an array of leadership roles based on their evaluations. For example, teachers rated “effective” might be able to pursue mentoring or coaching roles, opening new avenues for their continued growth and learning within the profession.

Where can I learn more about other teacher evaluation models from across the country?

MSFE districts are learning from research and from other states and districts that have already implemented similar systems. Learn more about current research and work taking place across the country, or visit the Resources page.

What types of leadership roles and incentives are being developed for teachers?

MSFE is designed to open up new professional opportunities for effective educators. Leadership roles and incentives will vary across districts and schools but may include:

  • Receiving stipends to complete Take One! professional development or for attaining National Board Certification
  • Receiving stipends for mentoring, coaching, facilitating collaboration among colleagues, or by leading professional learning communities
  • Receiving stipends for teaching in high-need subjects or hard-to-staff areas

To reward educators for taking on these additional responsibilities and efforts, salary bonuses that are funded by TIF will be available.

What is the goal of including performance-based pay in a human capital management system?

Performance-based compensation is a way to recognize and reward teachers for their contributions to students’ academic success. It also supports districts’ efforts to recruit and retain effective teachers and encourages effective teachers to work in high-need settings. Performance pay may be offered to individual teachers or teams of teachers based on student learning growth goals they set in conjunction with their evaluators at the outset of the evaluation cycle.

The long-term goal of performance-based pay is to compensate all effective teachers with competitive, attractive salaries that reflect their work and value and that attract the best and brightest to the teaching profession. Performance-based compensation strategies help to objectify and rationalize teacher and principal salary increases in terms of merit and measurable impact.

Where can I learn more about other human capital management systems that are being implemented in other states and districts?

The following list offers some examples from other states and districts that have begun to successfully implement some type of performance-based system.