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Informational Letter # 36
To: Superintendents, Assistant Superintendents, and Curriculum Coordinators
From: Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner
Date: October 21, 2003
Re: Update on Maine DOE Activities Related to Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)
In an effort to provide up-to-date information that might be helpful to local school officials in reviewing AYP reports and in discussions with local media, I am providing the following summary of DOE efforts currently underway:
§ List of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and Talking Points: A comprehensive list of questions and responses is being posted on the DOE website and linked to this Informational Letter. The list has been developed from questions that were raised during the October 15, 2003 ATM broadcast and questions that have been raised in phone calls from local school officials. We will also post a collection of “talking points” on AYP that might be useful in discussions with parents, school boards, and local media.
§ Rebroadcast of the October 15th ATM Session: We deeply regret that the October 15, 2003 ATM broadcast on AYP reports could not be viewed successfully at several sites. The storm that swept through central and eastern Maine that afternoon resulted in unforeseen technical issues that the staff could not solve prior to the broadcast time. We also received feedback that the power point slides were not visible frequently enough during the broadcast. To help address these problems we are re-broadcasting the presentation on Thursday, October 23, 2003 beginning at 3:00 p.m. and running continuously until 6:00 p.m. Anyone interested in viewing or recording the program can make arrangements with any of the 87 ATM sites. Sites that wish to receive the broadcast should contact Steve Vose at 624-6679 (email@example.com) to be added to the reservation list by 5:00 on Wednesday, October 22, 2003. Videotape copies of the presentation can be obtained by downloading the request form at the following link on the DOE website:
§ Correcting Incorrect Data from Measured Progress: Two data fields included in the MEA results forwarded to Maine DOE by Measured Progress, our MEA contractor, were erroneous: 11th grade math data on SES status, and 4th grade math data on SES status were reversed. Correct data has now been sent to Maine DOE and new school reports are being produced and will be sent to local districts as quickly as possible.
§ Inclusion of PAAP Student Data for Participation: On Monday, October 20, 2003, Maine DOE received data on students who took part in the Personalized Alternate Assessment Portfolio process (PAAP), and Maine DOE will be reviewing local school and district participation rate calculations for these students for AYP status. Also, we have asked that local districts include the names of students who participated in the PAAP process on or with your appeals form. Please send this information as a double-check for accuracy. Districts in which schools make AYP when the PAAP students are included for participation will be notified as quickly as possible. PAAP student scores for performance will be added into the calculations later this fall, at which time adjustments will be made to school and district status reports.
§ Review of Socio-Economic Status (SES) Data: In addition to the Measured Progress error described above, the use of family Internet access as a proxy for SES has been called into question. The use of this indicator will be for this year only. Maine DOE will be reviewing how to gather more precise and reliable information, probably through free and reduced lunch data, for next year. Confidentiality and accuracy are issues at the high school level that must be addressed as we review how to accomplish this goal. In the meantime, Maine DOE will obtain from Measured Progress student responses to this questionnaire item so that districts that did not make AYP solely on the basis of SES sub-group data can review the accuracy of this data compared to other local data.
§ Appeals Process Timeline and Implications for AYP Status: The announced deadline for filing appeals to DOE is Wednesday, October 22, 2003. Maine DOE has already received numerous appeal forms from local districts and is currently processing them. To the extent possible, we will either complete the review process for local districts by the time of the press conference scheduled for October 27, 2003 or clearly indicate at the press conference that data on school status for numerous schools is being reviewed and therefore the AYP status has not yet been determined with sufficient confidence.
§ Simplified Local AYP Status Report Template: Maine DOE has also produced a Word template, available at the link below, to be used at the local level to produce a simplified version of AYP status reports. To make use of the form, copy the form to a local computer and enter the status of local schools using just the letter designating AYP status. The template document also includes a sample on how the form should look when completed.
§ Freedom of Access Requests: Two Maine newspapers have filed Freedom of Access requests for all documents sent by DOE to local districts. Though we are continuing to discuss which documents in which the media are actually interested, and which ones would be meaningful to them, it is possible that copies of the preliminary reports sent to local districts will be released later this week to the two newspapers in question. If that is the case, we will make every effort to “surround” the data with clear information from the Maine DOE about the preliminary nature of the status reports, and with information about the appeals process, the PAAP participation issues, and other important aspects of the data. At this writing, we are still planning to hold a press conference on October 27,2003 at 1:00 p.m. in the State House, at which time a more complete picture of State and national AYP results will be presented to Maine citizens. If the status of the press conference changes due to Freedom of Access compliance issues, we will update superintendents as quickly as possible.
I know that many of you are frustrated at the complexity of the information we have had to create to comply with NCLB. In ongoing discussions with members of the press, we have attempted to convey our frustrations as well. As we prepare for and conduct our press events, I assure you that we will do everything in our power to provide accurate and complete information to Maine citizens about our schools, and to offset the potential for unwarranted conclusions based on NCLB requirements with a more complete picture of the effectiveness of Maine’s schools.
For more information on NCLB, please contact Jackie Soychak at 624-6734 or firstname.lastname@example.org