Skip Maine state header navigation
INFORMATIONAL LETTER: 124
POLICY CODE: IKF
TO: Superintendents of Schools, Assistant Superintendents, Curriculum Coordinators, Special Education Directors, and Principals
FROM: Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner
DATE: May 10, 2005
RE: Education Committee Vote on LD 1424, An Act to Simplify Implementation of the Learning Results
On Wednesday, May 4, 2005 the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs voted unanimously Ought to Pass LD 1424 as amended. During the work session, Commissioner Gendron and members of the Education Committee spoke to the following goals that underscore the action taken by the Committee:
- Sustaining the original purpose of the Maine Learning Results
- All students should aspire to high levels of learning
- Achievement should be assessed in a variety of ways
- Completion of public school should have common meaning throughout the State
- Maintaining current timelines for implementation of all curriculum and instruction, which must be implemented in 2007-2008 school year (including Visual & Performing Arts, Modern and Classical Languages, and Career Preparation)
- Insuring access to a diploma for all students
- Modification of the Local Assessment System (LAS) to ensure that capacity is available for building effective systems that address all components of a comprehensive Learning Results system.
The following key changes were included in the bill:
- The Commissioner will conduct a review of all School Administrative Units (SAUs) and report back to the Education Committee in January of 2006 on the status of implementation of the system of Learning Results
- The Commissioner will develop technical assistance plan for SAUs
- The current practice of graduation decisions and the awarding of diplomas based upon credits will continue (and a change made to current law to reflect that)
- A Learning Results Endorsement can be added to the diploma and high school transcript for students who demonstrate attainment of the Learning Results standards
- Language has been added for Special Education students to clarify that a diploma will be awarded to those who successfully complete the goals and objectives of their Individual Educational Programs (IEPs) in attainment of the Learning Results.
- Language has been added to set the stage for a redesign of the Maine Educational Assessment (MEA) to test a consistent set of standards in reading and mathematics in grades 3 through 8. This will necessitate expanding the existing Grade Level Expectations (GLEs) by approximately 15%-20% in each subject area to ensure that the MEA will assess a sufficiently broad set of skills. The test in grades 4 and 8 will become more compact as a result, though science and writing will continue to be assessed at grades 4and 8. The goal of this redesign is to provide clearer and more useful student achievement data to teachers, students, local school boards, and parents, and to make the test more predictable and useful as tool for school improvement. The redesign will also allow for a reduction in the number of assessments in the Local Assessment System.
- Language in the bill permits the Commissioner, after reporting to the Education Committee in September, 2005, to provide for an alternative measure of student achievement at grade 11.
- Graduation decision requirements will be modified as follows:
- 2008-09—School Administrative Units may issue diplomas based upon attainment of the Learning Results and must report on the number of credit diplomas and Learning Results Endorsements issued to students.
- Beginning in 2009-10—the Commissioner will establish annual targets for the percentage of students to whom units should be awarding Learning Results Endorsements, increasing each year from 2010 on. (SAUs will be required to include local percentages in their annual basic school approval reports to the Department)
- 2009-10—a percentage of Learning Results Endorsement must be awarded in English Language Arts and Mathematics
- 2010-11—a percentage of Learning Results Endorsement must be awarded in English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Technology, Social Studies, and Health and Physical Education
- 2011-12 a percentage of Learning Results Endorsement must be awarded in English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Technology, Social Studies, Health and Physical Education, Modern and Classical Languages, Visual and Performing Arts, and Career Preparation
- For private academies enrolling 60% or more of publicly funded students, all items listed above would apply
- Accountability for implementation of the system will be measured through the SAUs’ comprehensive education plans
- (Note: As the review of the proposals evolved over the past weeks, it became clear that the Learning Results Credit, which had been introduced to assist units to phase in the LAS, carried with it too many questions and complexities to reach its intended goal and was, therefore, dropped from the discussion.)
The following actions will be required of the Department as a result of the enactment of LD 1424:
- The Commissioner is authorized to provide technical assistance to SAUs that are not moving towards the targets
- The Department is required to revise the regulations for the Implementation of the System of Learning Results (Chapters 125 & 127) – these are major substantive rules and will be ready for legislative review in January of 2006
- The regulations will be rewritten to simplify the Local Assessment System (LAS).
- The regulations will require the School Administrative Units to use the MEA in the Local Assessment System (LAS), thus reducing the number of assessments to be used.
- Once Chapters 125 and 127 are rewritten, updated versions of the LAS Guide and Considering Consistency will be disseminated.
In the coming days, the Department will provide additional information to you through briefing sessions around the State, beginning next week. We will also be providing a follow-up Informational Letter which will include the following information:
- Details on the timeline and key proposed amendments to Chapters 125 and 127
- Details on the proposed Department review and validation of local Comprehensive Education Plans, including the Local Assessment System
- Timeline and process for receiving comments from the field on the subset of performance indicators to be used in the redesigned Maine Education Assessment
- Suggested considerations for district-level decision making and communications regarding the expectations for the Class of 2008 and beyond.
In addition, the amendments to Chapter 125 and 127 and their implications will be included on the agenda for the upcoming Superintendents’ Conference in June.
I wish to thank all of you who attended the public hearings and work sessions in Augusta. The voices from the field played a critical role in shaping the final outcome of the Committee’s deliberations. My hope is that the changes described above, which stem from the lessons learned in the first phase of Learning Results implementation, will genuinely enhance our efforts to see that the Learning Results are achieved by all Maine students.