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Informational Letter: 34


Policy Code: ILB



To:        Superintendents of Schools, Principals, Curriculum Coordinators, Special Education

            Directors, School Health Coordinators, Title 1 Coordinators               


From:   Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner


Date:     October 16, 2003


RE:       Local Assessment System Implementation Study


This letter is to update you on the progress towards our commitment to conduct an implementation study during the 2003-2004 school year.  The study will examine how school districts are responding to the challenges of developing a local assessment system using the principles and criteria set forth in the Local Assessment System (LAS) Guide distributed to school districts in June. 


School administrative unit recruitment has been underway since schools opened this fall, when Superintendents were informed of this opportunity at their fall regional meetings.  The Department has selected two districts from each of the nine superintendents regions, for a total of 18 sites.  These selected districts differ as much as possible with respect to implementation status and will include representation across the spectrums of geography, governance structure, school size, and socioeconomic status.  Teams from these districts will meet in Waterville for an Informational Meeting on November 7, 2003.


At the initial meeting, participating districts will learn more about plans for the study and will complete surveys describing the status of the LAS implementation and identifying factors that have contributed to, or presented challenges for, their LAS development.  The meeting will be followed by a series of phone interviews and site visits to further explore the sites' status and contributing factors.  Researchers will talk with teachers, administrators, and others.  A final meeting of the study sites at the end of the school year will include a peer assessment process to gauge the progress of each SAU towards full LAS development and implementation.


Leadership for our Local Assessment System Implementation Study (LASIS) is provided by the LASIS Team. Serving as chair of this team is Dr. Theodore Coladarci who is on sabbatical from the University of Maine for the 2003-2004 school year.  Dr. Coladarci is a Visiting Fellow with the Department of Education and will direct the activities of the implementation study.  Ted is Professor of Education at the University of Maine where he specializes in quantitative research methods and educational assessment.  He has served on the Department's Technical Advisory Committee since its inception in 1995.


Other LASIS Team members are Patrick Phillips, Pam Rolfe, Tom Keller (Department of Education), Brian Gong, Charlie DePascale (Center for Assessment), Jill Rosenblum (Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance), Gary McDonald (public schools), Walt Harris, Lori Smith (UMaine Center for Research and Evaluation), and Jeff Beaudry  (University of Southern Maine).  


The Local Assessment System Implementation Study is an example of our continued commitment to make the Department a learning organization that makes data-driven decisions.  Thank you to all of those who volunteered to participate in this very important work.  I will keep you informed of our progress throughout this school year.