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TO: Superintendents of Schools, Assistant Superintendents, Curriculum Coordinators, School Administrators, Special Education Directors,

and other Staff Involved in the SAU Review Process


FROM:       Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner


DATE:        August 19, 2005


RE:             SAU Review Process and Self-Assessment Tool - Word Document - PDF




1. Purpose of the SAU Review Process


2. Key Dates for SAUs


3. Regional Orientation Meetings


4. DOE Review Teams


            5. Teacher/Principal Survey


6. Self-Assessment Tool (enclosed) and Recommended Process for Completion


7. SAU Review Visit and Schedule for the Day (agenda and protocol enclosed)




       In Informational Letter # 135 (June 3, 2005), I provided an update on the Department's plans for the mid-course adjustments to the implementation of Maine's system of Learning Results, including some information on the review of each SAU's status on implementing the Learning Results as described in the SAU Comprehensive Education Plans and Local Assessment Systems.  This letter provides additional information on the SAU Review Process, along with the self-assessment tool to be completed before the visits begin.  Since the deadline for reporting to the Education Committee has been extended by one month, the visits will begin on October 17, 2005.  Information about the SAU Review Process, including the self-assessment tool, is available on the Department's website at




       It is important that both the review teams and the SAUs have a common Statement of Purpose to guide them through this process.  It is as follows:


·        Provide SAUs with a detailed description of essential components of a standards-based system (implementation of the system of Maine's Learning Results);


·        Provide guidance to SAUs in conducting a self-assessment, for both short- and long-term purposes, using a reflective tool based on the components above;

·        Provide for the review by Department teams of each SAU’s self-assessment of its status in implementing the system of Learning Results as described in its Comprehensive Education Plan and Local Assessment System;


·        Permit the Department of Education to collect data on the statewide status of the implementation of the Learning Results in advance of a report to the Education Committee in February 2006;


·        Provide a basis for the eventual validation of each SAU’s implementation of the system of Learning Results and its Local Assessment System, based on criteria that will be outlined in amendments to Chapters 125 and 127; and


·        Identify the technical assistance needs of each SAU in Maine as the SAU implements the system of Learning Results and its Local Assessment System.


       We believe that this is a process that will benefit all of us - the Department, the Legislature, the SAUs and providers of technical assistance statewide - in our collaborative effort to ensure that teachers and SAUs are equipped to meet the requirements of our standards-based system for our students.  It is an opportunity to not only assess our collective needs with respect to implementation of the Learning Results, but an opportunity to reach all SAUs with at least the first steps of technical assistance in meeting those needs.  Finally, it is our strong conviction that the self-assessment tool, and the overall process, will assist SAUs in an ongoing transformative process that extends well beyond this review process and that contributes to the sustainability of those important changes that SAUs have already made in this effort.




August 19, 2005                       Tool Distributed to SAUs/Posted on Website


September 12-30, 2005           Regional Orientation Meetings [dates/locations to be announced shortly]


September 12-30, 2005           Pilot Site Process Conducted with 6 SAUs


October 17, 2005                    SAU Review Visits Begin


October 27 - 28, 2005             Additional Orientation Meeting at the MSMA Fall Conference


January 15, 2006                      SAU Review Visits End


February, 2006                        Report to the Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs


February, 2006                        Amendments to Chapters 125 and 127 Proposed

September, 2006                     Validation Process per Chapters 125 and 127 Begins



       Meetings will be held around the State to orient SAUs to the tool and to answer questions about it.  The dates and locations of these meetings will be announced shortly; they will be scheduled to take place from September 12 – 30, 2005 in the nine (9) superintendents’ regions across the State.  In addition, the Department will present an orientation as a clinic at the Maine School Management Association’s (MSMA’s) Fall Conference, October 27-28, 2005.




The DOE Review Teams are teams of four (4) individuals; teams are made up of two (2) Department staff and two (2) individuals from SAUs and other fields of expertise, including school leadership, Career and Technical Education, staff development, and high school reform.  Careful attention will be paid to avoiding review assignments that may present actual or even potential conflicts of interest between SAUs and those external reviewers who may already be providing services to the SAU.  Each review team will include one member with expertise in the Local Assessment System.  Teams will be trained to review the self-assessment and the current evidence, and to engage in dialogue about them, in a manner that is designed to ensure as much consistency across reviews as possible.  The final step in the review process will be to identify, in a “concluding conversation”, the SAU’s strengths, areas of need, and plans for action in addressing those needs.  Plans for more specific technical assistance and the resources needed for it will be included in the report to the Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs to be submitted in February 2006.




            In order to ensure that teachers and principals within each SAU have a forum for contributing to this status check on the SAU’s implementation of the Learning Results in the Comprehensive Education Plan and the Local Assessment system, the Department is developing a survey to be designed by evaluation experts at the University of Maine, for completion by teachers and principals in the SAU, and with the results to be shared with both the Department and the SAU prior to the SAU review visit.  The survey will track the language of the self-assessment tool and will be focused on the three (3) core standards described below.  It is critical that teachers and principals take this opportunity to offer their assessment of the SAU’s status on the implementation of the Learning Results and the Local Assessment System.





      In the Learning Results Planning Committee Final Report of October, 2000, nine standards with indicators for the implementation of the Learning Results were identified as interrelated components that are central to student-centered, standards-based continuous improvement. These nine standards with their selected indicators were used to develop a self-assessment tool for SAUs to use to determine the current status of their implementation of the Learning Results through the Comprehensive Education Plan and the Local Assessment System. 


       The self-assessment tool that is included here will be used as the focus of the SAU review visit.  It should be completed by a team of people who have knowledge of the whole SAU’s effort to implement the Learning Results and Local Assessment System.  The team members and/or the evidence compiled on the three (3) core standards should represent a variety of perspectives (school board, central office administration, school-based administration, classroom teachers, special education teachers, and students, parents, and community members). Our expectation is that the Superintendent of Schools will be the Department’s point of contact unless the Superintendent chooses to delegate this responsibility to another person.


        The day’s visit will focus on the first three (3) standards, identified as core standards for the purpose of the status check on the implementation of Learning Results and the Local Assessment System. The evidence that the SAU will compile for the DOE Review Team’s review during the visit will be evidence related to these core standards.  The remaining six (6) enabling and supporting standards will also be discussed, to ensure a comprehensive picture, but the compilation of evidence on these six (6) standards is not required.


        The tool also includes questions pertaining to private schools that enroll at least 60% publicly funded students, to which some SAUs send their students.  As you will see in the instructions in the self-assessment tool, we envision and recommend a collaborative process between the SAU and these private schools, both in completing the self-assessment and in structuring the day’s visit with the DOE review team.



       While the Department does collect various kinds of data from SAUs on a regular basis, this is the first time the Department has requested that SAUs complete a comprehensive self-assessment that will provide the basis of a formative discussion on actual implementation of the Learning Results and the Local Assessment System.  Data that SAUs have compiled for other purposes may be useful as evidence of the SAU's status in the implementation process so please be sure to consider for inclusion as evidence any material that you have that is current and relevant.  With our design of this tool and the process for the day, and the use of already compiled current and relevant evidence, the Department hopes to make this as efficient a process as possible for all of us.




       The visits will be day-long visits, and will allow for time to concentrate on the three (3) core standards and the teacher/principal survey results in the morning and the remainder of the self-assessment in the afternoon, with the DOE review team caucusing on their own during a working lunch.  It is our recommendation that the SAU’s presentation team be made up of the individuals of differing perspectives that participated in the completion of the self-assessment.  We also recommend that, during that part of the morning when the teacher/principal survey results will be discussed, the SAU’s team include additional teachers and principals to join in that discussion.  The day will end with a “concluding conversation”, focused on strengths, challenges, technical assistance needs and next steps.  The visits are carefully designed to ensure the greatest consistency and objectivity possible, and to promote an opportunity for the Department to hear the voice of the SAU on its current status with respect to implementation of the Learning Results and the Local Assessment System.


       If the DOE Review Team consensus is that the SAU is at significant risk of not meeting the statutory deadlines for implementation or for certification of achievement of the Learning Results by diploma, or that referral to other Department staff is needed for significant issues related to school approval that affect successful implementation, another day’s visit may be scheduled for a later time. Additional or different review team members may participate in that later visit.



       We look forward to this opportunity to engage in further, targeted dialogue with all Maine SAUs and we are confident of the contribution these visits will make toward furthering the goal of graduating our high school students ready to meet their post-secondary ambitions.  If you have any questions about the process, please contact Patrick Phillips, Deputy Commissioner, at or 624-6620.