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TO:                  Superintendents, Curriculum Coordinators, Middle School Principals, Junior High School Principals, and High School Principals

FROM:            Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner

DATE:             January 26, 2005

RE:                  Comprehensive School Reform (CSR) Grant Application

I am pleased to announce that there will be a fourth cohort of CSR funded schools in Maine for the 2005-2006 school year.

In the past, Maine has targeted its CSR funds toward high schools working to implement the Core Principles and Core Practices of Promising Futures: A Call to Improve Learning for Maine’s Secondary Students.   Since 1999 there have been three cohorts of CSR grantees representing 33 Maine High Schools.   With this fourth cohort, eligibility has been extended to junior high / middle schools (grades 5-8) in addition to high schools (grades 9-12).   It is imperative that middle and secondary level schools and educators begin to work more closely in order to create a seamless system that supports each student’s achievement of the Learning Results and ensures their preparation for postsecondary education, work and citizenship in the 21 st century.

Maine’s CSR Program will continue to provide funding to schools having the greatest need to substantially improve student performance of Maine’s Learning Results. CSR funds will be available for schools that are Title I Eligible and/or Title I Served and are identified as either a Monitor or a school in need of Continuous Improvement (CIPS) during 2002-2003 and/or 2003- 2004. The MDOE’s Center for Educational Transformation, formerly the Center for Inquiry on Secondary Education (CISE), will work to support CSR schools to meet the vision of preparing each student for postsecondary education, work and citizenship in the 21 st century.   The foundation for this vision is described in Maine’s Learning Results and Promising Futures.   Schools that receive CSR funding will work to transform their current educational systems and practices into equitable, rigorous, and personalized teaching and learning experiences that result in improved student performance.

Federal guidelines mandate that each CSR program must address the following eleven components:

Documentation of needs and how the program addresses the needs.

A comprehensive reform   design with aligned components and timelines for implementation.

Measurable goals and benchmarks for student achievement.

Use of research based strategies and practices that have been found to make significant improvements in the academic achievement of students or which demonstrate strong evidence by other means that they will improve the academic achievement of students.

Professional learning to support the design and implementation of the program.

High-quality external technical support and assistance from one or more external partners with experience and expertise in school-wide reform and improvement.

Leadership for comprehensive school reform.

Meaningful parent and community involvement in planning, implementing and evaluating school improvement activities.

  a.) Support within the school for the proposed CSR program.

 b.) Support within the district for the proposed CSR program.

Annual evaluation strategies for the implementation of school reforms and for student results achieved.

Budget and coordination of resources to support and sustain the school's comprehensive reform effort.

Schools selected to participate in the CSR program receive $50,000 per year for up to 3 years to implement a plan for whole school change that addresses the eleven CSR components through research-based strategies and effective practices that show evidence of improved student achievement.  

After 5 years of CSR work, the MDOE has identified research-based strategies and promising practices that bring about equity, rigor, and personalization for all students.   The fourth cohort of CSR schools will be required to integrate the following research based strategies and practices:

1. A postsecondary education preparation strategy that involves every student and faculty member and includes:

a. The elimination of tracking and sorting practices so that students are heterogeneously grouped in all classes,

b. A rigorous curriculum for all students that improves high school achievement, reduces college remediation, increases college completion and is evaluated by common assessments included in the Comprehensive Assessment System,

c. The use of differentiated instruction methods that support and enable each student to be successful in a standards based system.

2. A school wide adolescent literacy strategy that:

a. Utilizes research-based strategies for literacy teaching and learning for all students,

b. Supports reading and writing to learn in each of the content areas of a rigorous curriculum,

c. Provides both remediation and acceleration based upon assessment data and a student’s personal learning plan.

3. A small learning communities strategy that:

a. Links supportive relationships with high standards for achievement through academic teams that are heterogeneously grouped,

b. Focuses on increasing students’ aspirations and supporting students through important transitions: from middle school to high school and from high school to postsecondary education,

c. Is supported by a flexible school schedule that provides time for teams of teachers and students, as well as teams of teachers to meet regularly,

4. A professional learning communities strategy that:

a. Provides the faculty with specific and ongoing professional learning focused on:

i. differentiated instruction,

ii. developing a shared understanding and implementation of a rigorous curriculum for all students that improves high school achievement, reduces college remediation, increases college completion,

iii. adolescent literacy strategies in specific content areas,

iv. academic teaming, small learning community strategy.

b. Are structured so that teachers:

i. engage in joint planning and curriculum development,

ii. observe and react to one another’s teaching, curriculum, and assessment practices,

iii. utilize reflective protocols.

          Application packages will be mailed to Superintendents and Principals no later than the second week of February.    It is estimated that up to 15 schools may receive funding.   The deadline for submitting a proposal is April 27, 2005.   Schools will be notified of awards by May 12, 2005 and each school in the new cohort will be required to send a team to a CSR orientation on May 17, 2005 at the Ramada Inn in Lewiston.  

A CSR grant information workshop will be held at the Augusta Civic Center on February 15, 2005 from 9:30 AM –2:30 PM.    Eligible schools may register a team for this workshop by filling out the attached Intent to Apply/Registration form and faxing (624-6821) or e-mailing ( it to Tonia Stevens.


FORM #1 Intent to Apply for a CSR Grant

Maine Comprehensive School Reform

Implementation Grants: Cohort 4

 2005-2006 Competition

School Administrative Unit _________________________________________________________

School ________________________________________________________________________

Lowest Grade Served __________                                              Highest Grade Served __________

School Contact Person ____________________________________________________________

School Contact Person’s Position ____________________________________________________

School Contact Person’s E-mail Address: ______________________________________________

Date Submitted __________________________________________________________________

____ Yes, we intend to apply for a CSR grant.

____ Yes, we will attend the CSR Grant Information Workshop on February 15, 2005.

____ No, we will not attend the CSR Grant Information Workshop on February 15, 2005.

Our School is: Check all that apply

___ Monitor Status for 2003- 2004

___ Title I Eligible


___ Continuous Improvement School in Math 2003- 2004

___ Title I Served

___ Continuous Improvement School in Reading 2003-2004

Please return by February 4, 2005 to:

Tonia Stevens

Center for Educational Transformation

Maine Department of Education

23 State House Station

Augusta, ME 04333-0023

Fax: 207-624-6821