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INFORMATIONAL LETTER: 128  

POLICY CODE: DD/IHAM

 

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

FROM:             Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner

DATE:              May 13, 2005

RE:                   Comprehensive School Reform (CSR) Grant Application

I am pleased to announce that there will be another opportunity for designated middle school or junior high school that serves grades 5-8 or high schools to apply for the CSR program for the upcoming 2005-2006 school year.

Maine’s CSR Program will continue to provide funding to schools having the greatest need to substantially improve student performance on Maine’s Learning Results. CSR funds are available for schools that have been identified by the Maine Department of Education as being in need of improvement, either on Monitor Status for 2003-2004 or on Continuous Improvement Status (CIPS) 2002-2003 and/or 2003-2004.   These buildings must have been Title I Eligible or Title I served in 2003-2004.  

In addition, I have decided to expand the eligibility requirements to include those middle or junior high schools or high schools that have been identified as a Monitor or a school in need of Continuous Improvement for the 2004- 2005 school year as eligible applicants.   These buildings must have been Title I Eligible or Title or I Served in 2004-2005.

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 21st 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; and

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; and

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; and

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; and

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; and

iii. utilize reflective protocols.

          Application packages will be mailed to Superintendents and Principals by May 20, 2005.   A complete application package will be available on our website on May 16, 2005 http://www.maine.gov/education/cse/05-06%20CSR%20RFP.htm .   It is estimated that up to 7 schools may receive funding.   The deadline for submitting a proposal is July 13, 2005.   Schools will be notified of awards by July 21, 2005 and each school in the new cohort will be required to send a team to a CSR orientation on August 4, 2005.  

A CSR grant information workshop will be held via the ATM system on May 24, 2005 between 2:45 – 4:30 p.m.    If you would like to receive a broadcast transmission, please respond via e-mail to: louise.nicholas@maine.gov   no later than May 23, 2005.   Please be reminded that you should check with your site coordinator to make sure that your site is available during this time.   I would also like to remind you that if you are receiving a broadcast you will only be able to see and hear what is being transmitted from the origination site which will be room 103 in Burton Cross Office Building in Augusta.   If you would like to attend this grant information workshop in Augusta please email: louise.nicholas@maine.gov  

Since the CSR grant application is a competitive process, questions cannot be answered on an individual basis.   All questions must be submitted in writing to Susan Johnson, CSR Program Coordinator at susan.johnson@maine.gov   or Tonia Stevens, Program Associate at tonia.stevens@maine.gov.   All questions and answers will be posted to the following web page so that all potential applicants may receive the same information: http://www.maine.gov/education/cse/csefaq.htm   There is no deadline for submitting questions.   Please check the web page frequently to view new questions and answers.