Glossary of Terms: Building a Common Language

Commonly used terms and acronyms related to Maine Schools for Excellence's work.



Chapter 180

Chapter 180 (Title 20-A MRSA Ch. 508 § 180) is the rule that establishes standards and procedures for implementation of performance evaluation and professional growth systems for Maine educators. It is part of Title 20-A, Chapter 508 of the Maine Revised Statutes.

District Steering Committees (DSCs)

DSCs are district-level committees representing key stakeholders within districts. They meet regularly to review and modify project design components as appropriate and allowable to the local context. They also monitor Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) MSFE implementation. DSCs are chaired by district superintendents or human resources representatives. MSFE staff supports district chairs in setting meeting agendas, connecting with experts, capturing decisions, and determining next steps.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

ESEA is the principle federal law affecting K–12 education. Originally enacted in 1965 as part of the War on Poverty, ESEA was created to support the education of the country's poorest children, and that remains the law’s overarching purpose. Congress must periodically reauthorize ESEA, and each reauthorization has brought some changes to the original act. No Child Left Behind (2002) was the most dramatic revision of ESEA, and its provisions represent a significant change in the federal government's influence on public schools and districts throughout the United States. This is particularly true in terms of standards-based instruction, ongoing assessment of student learning, and teacher quality provisions.

Executive Advisory Council (EAC)

The Executive Advisory Council is a combined TIF 3 and TIF 4 advisory group that meets bimonthly during the school year to provide advice and feedback related to the design and implementation of the MSFE program. The group consists of representatives from the major state-level stakeholder groups: the Maine Education Association, the Maine School Management Association, the Maine Administrators of Services for Children with Disabilities, the Maine Curriculum Association, and the Maine Principals Association, as well as representatives from Maine’s Department of Education.

Human Capital Management System (HCMS)

HCMS is a district-wide approach to recruiting, retaining, and developing effective teachers and principals that strategically addresses the full spectrum of educator effectiveness policies and practices—preparation, recruitment, hiring, placement, induction, dismissal, compensation, professional development, tenure, working conditions, and more—and ensures alignment and coherence across them.

Leader Evaluation and Professional Growth (LEPG)

The LEPG program is a comprehensive performance assessment system for school leaders. The program is designed to reinforce a culture of learning that advances student learning and engagement, attracts and retains the best teachers, and improves teacher and school performance. The LEPG program in built on National Board for Professional Teaching Standards’ core propositions and standards of accomplished leadership. Performance on the evaluation is part of a scorecard that is tied to the Performance Based Compensation (PBC) program. The LEPG is a critical element of the MSFE human capital management system and is a core requirement of the TIF grants. (See also TEPG, the equivalent system for teachers).

Maine Department of Education Strategic Plan

Maine DOE’s strategic plan, titled Education Evolving: Maine’s Plan for Putting Learners First, sets out objectives and action steps for building an education system in Maine that meets the needs of all learners. This plan focuses on students from early childhood to adulthood, preparing them for college, careers, and civic life. Cultivating great teachers and leaders is one of five core priority areas in DOE’s strategic plan. Within this core priority area, there are four subcategories:

  • Common standards for teacher and leader effectiveness

  • Initial preparation and professional development programs that are rigorous, relevant, and data-driven

  • Next-generation evaluation systems for teachers and leaders

  • Communities of practice designed to foster continuous improvement

Maine Schools for Excellence (MSFE)

MSFE is the official name given to the TIF 3 and TIF 4 projects aimed at enhancing district-wide educator effectiveness and student learning. Technically, individual schools and districts are involved either in TIF 3 or in TIF 4. However, all TIF schools and districts are part of the overarching MSFE initiative.

Multiple Measures

The term “multiple measures” is frequently used in discussions about educator evaluation and is shorthand for two different concepts:

  • Multiple measures of student learning—the use of a variety of sources of student learning data, such as learning growth/value-added measures, standardized assessment scores, curriculum-based assessments, teacher-created assessments, rubric scores, or authentic assessments, performances, recitals, and others

  • Multiple measures of teaching effectiveness—the use of a variety of sources of data regarding a teacher’s performance, including classroom observations, artifacts such as lesson plans, student value-added data, or student or parent survey data

No Child Left Behind (NCLB)

See Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

Performance-Based Compensation (PBC)

Performance-based compensation programs aim to recognize and reward educators based on their job performance. The long-term goal of a PBC program is to ensure that educators are compensated with competitive, attractive salaries that reflect their work and value and that attract the best and brightest to the teaching profession. Depending on how a PBC system is structured, it can also help recruit and retain effective teachers to work in settings where they are most needed. There are many different ways that PBC programs can be structured. However, all MSFE programs will include the following:

  • A balanced set of measures over which teachers and leaders have direct influence

  • Priority weighting attached to each measure that reflects the relative importance of the measure

  • Performance targets that are aggressive but attainable

  • Pay options that are fair, transparent, and equitable

  • A distribution formula that is based on progress along a continuum, rather than an “all-or-nothing” situation

Proficiency-Based Learning

Proficiency-based learning is one approach that a growing number of Maine schools are adopting to ensure that their students graduate from high school with the skills they need for success in college, careers, and civic life. Proficiency-Based Learning aims to recognize differences in how (and how quickly) students learn. The approach allows students the flexibility to learn in ways that engage them. It also enables students to choose how they will demonstrate what they have learned while still working toward mastery of the same rigorous learning standards.


Reliability is the degree to which an instrument, when used appropriately, consistently measures a behavior or outcome. For example, if a rubric designed to capture evidence about teaching practice is to be reliable, it must be able to be applied in the same way by different raters evaluating the same teaching practice.

Smarter Balanced Assessments

The Smarter Balanced Consortium is one of two federally supported, state-led collaboratives charged with developing new assessment systems for mathematics and English language arts that are aligned with the Common Core State Standards. The new assessments are still in development, but Maine schools are on track to begin using the Smarter Balanced Assessments during the 2014–15 academic year. The assessments will replace the New England Common Assessment Program tests taken by students in Grades 3–8 and the SAT taken by students in high school.

Standardized Assessment

A standardized assessment is any assessment that is designed to be consistent (i.e., standard) in terms of questions, scoring, and conditions for administering.

Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS)

Maine has received two federal grants to enhance the Maine DOE’s data system. The resulting SLDS allows student data to be compiled over time, ensuring that each student has an accurate record regardless of transience across schools or districts. In addition, the SLDS will improve teachers’ ability to access relevant data that pertains specifically to their students and will accurately align teachers, classes, and individual students. The most recent federal grant awarded to Maine will enable development of both early childhood and post-secondary components of the state’s SLDS.

Statewide Practitioners Group (SPG)

The Statewide Practitioners Group provides guidance and shares information, resources, and lessons learned on relevant topics and TIF grant requirements. Membership in SPG includes school and district representatives from all TIF 3 and TIF 4 districts across Maine.

Student Growth Measures

Student growth measures provide data regarding changes in students’ academic performance between two or more points in time. Student growth measures may be based upon standardized assessments or school- or teacher-created assessments.

Student Learning Objective (SLO)

A SLO is a student growth measure that involves teachers and evaluators setting long-term academic goals for groups of students and later assessing whether those goals were achieved. The SLO must be specific and measureable; based on available prior student learning data; aligned with state standards; and based on growth and achievement.

Teacher Evaluation and Professional Growth (TEPG)

The TEPG program is a comprehensive performance assessment system that incorporates multiple measures of teacher effectiveness and that aims to improve teaching practice over time. TEPG is intended to offer formative feedback to educators that will drive continuous improvement and professional growth. The program is a key component of the MSFE human capital management system and is a core requirement of the TIF grants. (See also LEPG, the equivalent system for school leader evaluation).

Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF)

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. At the beginning of the program, TIF grants 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 compensation is only one piece. This shift occurred as lessons were drawn from the successes of original grantees. Maine is a recipient of the third and fourth rounds of TIF funding (TIF 3 and TIF 4).


Validity is the degree to which accurate conclusions can be drawn from a given measure.  While validity can be determined by the degree to which an instrument measures what it is intended to measure, an instrument itself cannot be said to be valid or invalid. Rather, the conclusions one draws based on the use of the instrument can be valid or invalid. For example, in order to draw valid conclusions about teaching practice from a rubric, there must be evidence that the rubric’s descriptors are aligned with good teaching.

Value-Added Measures (VAMs)

Value-added measures are student growth measures that consist of calculations based on student assessment data from at least two points in time. For example, value-added scores can be derived from the change in a student’s score on an assessment administered in the fall and again in the spring. Value-added measures attempt to isolate the contributions that a teacher makes to the growth of his or her students’ test scores by using statistical models incorporating a range of variables that affect student performance. Depending on the exact value-added measures used, they may include students’ test scores in prior years, as well as demographic and other factors that might affect learning growth.