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INFORMATIONAL LETTER: #63
POLICY CODE: ILBA
TO: Superintendents of Schools, Private School Administrators, Assistant Superintendents, Principals, and Curriculum Coordinators
FROM: Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner
DATE: November 23, 2005
RE: Chapter 127 – Instructional Program, Assessment, and Diploma Requirements
As we continue to take follow-up actions on the mid-course adjustments to the implementation of Maine’s Learning Results enacted by the Legislature, I am sending this important update regarding Chapter 127, Instructional Program, Assessment and Diploma Requirements. As we have engaged in the initial stages of the review process, key policy goals have been at the forefront of our efforts: to provide flexibility for districts as they continue to implement the system of Learning Results; to provide increased support and accountability through a Department review and validation of each district’s implementation of the Learning Results; and to promote the development of coherent, connected standards-based systems.
To ensure that the review and revision of Chapter 127 incorporate broad participation of educational stakeholders, I opted to employ a consensus-based approach to the preliminary process by which key aspects of the rule were considered. The group invited to participate in the consensus-based process represented key education stakeholders: the Commissioner’s advisory committees, practitioners from local districts, and representatives from the non-profit professional development service providers. Approximately 125 individuals were invited to the three-day process, though only roughly 65 were able to participate in the three-session process.
The review of Chapter 127 was built around six essential aspects of the rule, and participants signed up to discuss one of the six areas for the majority of the time (Note: the group on the Role of the MEA/SAT as an External Reference for LAS merged with the LAS group part way through the process, and recommendations from the two groups are combined below.).
The Local Assessment System (LAS): The goal of this discussion was to clarify aspects of the LAS to provide greater flexibility for local districts, and to consider how the LAS might be modified to respond to capacity issues expressed by educators.
The District Validation and School Assistance Process: In order to ensure that a high degree of comparability exists across all districts in the State, it is assumed that the Department of Education will need to validate each district’s Learning Results implementation efforts, including the local assessment system.
The Role of the MEA/SAT as an External Reference for LAS: The goal of this discussion was be to consider whether and how the MEA and SAT should be used as an external reference point to support comparability across districts.
High School Course of Study and/or Core Curriculum: The secondary course of study now defines the number of credits a student must earn in certain content areas. However, it is not clear that all districts are providing students with fair opportunities meet the Learning Results. The goal of this discussion was to consider whether more specific language should be included in the rule to guide districts as they develop educational experiences to ensure all students have a fair chance to meet the standards.
The Learning Results Endorsement: This discussion focused on whether the Learning Results Endorsement should be for a single content area or for achievement of all content areas required at the time of graduation. The group also discussed the requirement that the Commissioner set annual targets for the percentage of Learning Results Endorsements, versus credit-based diplomas, districts should award.
Assessment of Achievement for Special Education Students: LD 1424 made significant modifications to the diploma expectations for students with disabilities. This discussion group focused on how the rule must add specificity on how the PET process and student IEPs will reflect the new expectations.
I wish to thank all those who participated in the process for the time, energy, commitment, and passion that made the process effective. The recommended changes to the rule listed below rely almost exclusively on the recommendations from the consensus-based process. Some of the proposed revisions to the rule will bring about significant changes to the Local Assessment System and high school diploma requirements. I strongly encourage participation in the public comment period so that our policy decisions are made with broad-based involvement. Once the public comment period has elapsed, I will once again have the opportunity to review the perspectives of those who have made comments, and consider modifications based on that input prior to submission to the Legislature.
Based on the outcomes of the consensus-based process, the Maine Department of Education is proposing amendments to Chapter 127 that include the following:
Local Assessment System/Role of the State Assessment:
The State Assessment will be used for comparability and as an external reference point for calibrating and monitoring the results obtained by SAUs in their LAS. Prior to the use of the State Assessment for this purpose, the Commissioner will review and reset, if needed, the performance standards (cut scores) for the State Assessment. In addition, the Commissioner will need to establish a process for determining a range of acceptable variance between the State Assessment and LAS results. (Ch. 127 Section 4.02 E. & F.)
The LAS should be developed as one integral aspect of the implementation of the system of Learning Results, and will be validated by the State based on the quality standards for Learning Results implementation to be defined in the revised Chapter 125 Basic School Approval Standards. (Ch. 127 Section 9.01)
The Department will revise existing documents (the LAS Guide and Considering Consistency), and develop additional technical guidance as needed on SAU development of the LAS, but such guidance will provide for flexibility at the SAU level in the application of such guidance. SAUs will be required to document during periodic reviews of the SAU’s implementation of the system of Learning Results that the results obtained in the LAS are valid, reliable, and comparable to the results obtained on the State Assessment (see 1st bullet above). (Ch. 127 Section 4.02 B.1.
Assessments in the LAS should measure core or essential learning standards. Instead of the local SAU prioritizing the standards to be measured in the LAS, a subset of essential learning standards will be identified by the State, and each SAU will be required to measure at least these in its Local Assessment System. This will contribute to comparability across the State. (Ch. 127 Section 4.02 B.3.)
When possible the LAS will demonstrate support for the eventual attainment of the Guiding Principles. (Ch. 127 Section 4.02 G.)
District Validation and School Assistance Process:
The basis for SAU validation should emphasize student achievement, key success indicators (graduation rate, post-secondary admission and attainment, dropout rate, etc.), broad implementation of the system of Learning Results, and strengthening the process of self-assessment, planning, and action. (Ch. 127 Section 9.01 A)
The validation process should emphasize the systemic nature of standards-based school improvement, not isolated aspects taken as separate domains. Example: the LAS technical requirements should not be considered as separate aspects of implementation, but rather as integral parts of a broad systemic approach to improving student achievement. (Ch. 127 Section 9.01 C)
The validation process should be built upon the description of Learning Results implementation currently developed in the SAU Review tool, and subsequently what will be defined in Chapter 125 as updated quality standards for implementation. (Ch. 127 Section 9.01)
The validation process should afford local SAUs the greatest possible ownership of implementation and accountability. Technical assistance will be available, but should be required only if the SAU has demonstrated a lack of capacity for self-directed improvement. (Ch. 127 Section 9.01 B)
The process should link to the Comprehensive Education Plan aspects of Ch. 125 and emphasize the planning rather than the plan. (Ch. 127 Section 9.01)
Each school board operating an elementary school and/or a middle school shall adopt a curriculum aligned with the content standards of the system of Learning Results in up to three grade spans: Pre-kindergarten-2 and 3-4, and, 5-8. Each school administrative unit shall determine the instructional methods and educational materials needed to give each student the opportunity to learn, develop understanding of, and demonstrate achievement of the content standards of the system of Learning Results. This may include an extended school day or school year for students who need more than the minimum time established in Me. Dept of Ed. Reg. 125 to meet the content standards of the system of Learning Results. (Ch. 127 Sections 5.02 A and 6.01 A)
The high school course of study shall prepare all students for career, citizenship, and college, defined as successful entry into two- or four-year colleges or universities without remediation. Each school administrative unit shall determine the instructional methods, educational materials, and methods of support needed to give each student the opportunity to meet the content standards of the system of Learning Results. This may include a personal learning plan, additional time for instruction during the school day, and/or an extended school day or school year for students who need more than the minimum time established in Me. Dept. of Ed. Reg. 125 to meet the content standards of the system of Learning Results. (Ch. 127 Section 7.01 A 2)
Learning Results Endorsement:
Students will be able to receive multiple endorsements for content areas required by the State at the time the diploma is awarded (i.e., ELA and math in 2012). (Ch. 127 Section 7.02 A. 8.)
The Commissioner would establish annual targets for the percentage of students to whom Learning Results endorsements should be awarded. The Commissioner shall take into account local conditions, challenges, and capacity in setting the targets and in developing responses when districts do not meet the targets. (Ch. 127 Section 7.02 A. 6.)
The Commissioner would develop specific procedures to guide the response by the State for SAUs that fail to meet the targets. It is important to note that the SAU would not be held to the target in a given year, to prevent establishing a quota for the number of students that could earn a standard diploma; however, after review by the Department of 2-4 years of data, the Department could require that technical assistance be provided. The SAU would be expected to document its implementation status, using the SAU Review Process. (Ch. 127 Section 7.02 A.7.)
Diploma Decisions for Special Education Students:
Diploma requirements shall be published and distributed to students entering the ninth grade. The Pupil Evaluation Team or 504 Team will specify in the goals of the IEP or 504 Plan how the student will achieve diploma requirements. These goals will be based on a wide variety of data sources and indicators aligned with the Learning Results. For students with a personal learning plan (PLP), including alternative education students and English language learners, the PLP shall include a specific plan on how the student will achieve diploma requirements. (Ch.127 Section 7.02)
The Commissioner shall establish procedural requirements, after seeking input from a variety of stakeholders, to follow when considering how a student will be required to meet any additional local requirements beyond achievement of the Learning Results.
A copy of the original rule is available at: http://www.maine.gov/sos/cec/rules/05/chaps05.htm
A copy of the proposed rule is available at: http://www.maine.gov/education/rulechanges.htm
A public hearing will be held on the proposed rule as follows:
Monday, December 12, 2005, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m., First Floor, Room 103, Burton M. Cross State Office Building, Augusta, Maine.
Individuals can participate in the hearing simultaneously using the Department’s Distance Learning Network from the following locations:
MSAD #1 Presque High School, Presque Isle;
Bangor High School, Bangor; and
Falmouth High School, Falmouth.
Written comments on the proposed rule will be considered if received in the Department of Education by 12:00 p.m. noon, December 22, 2005. This can be accomplished by:
Delivering them to the receptionist on the 5th Floor of the Burton M. Cross State Office Building;
Mailing them to Patrick Phillips, Deputy Commissioner, 23 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0023;
Faxing them to Patrick Phillips at 207-624-6601; or
E-mailing them to email@example.com.
We encourage public participation in this rule-making process.