Maine Schools for Excellence

Maine Schools for Excellence logoImproving student learning and educator effectiveness is at the heart of the Maine Schools for Excellence (MSFE) project. The overarching goal of the project is to advance student learning by implementing strategies that better recruit, identify, support and recognize effective teachers and leaders.

MSFE connects a select group of schools and districts in our state with rigorous professional development opportunities, a new educator evaluation system aimed at helping teachers and leaders improve their practice, and performance bonuses that reward them for student success.

The Maine Schools for Excellence initiative began in the 2010–11 school year as the result of a partnership with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in a five-year Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The program’s first phase utilized National Board's Standards for Accomplished Teaching and programs to provide Maine teachers and principals with specialized professional development and the foundation for determining teacher effectiveness.

The work of Maine’s Schools for Excellence districts is transformational. It also is a guidepost for the teaching profession. Anchored in National Board Standards, these model programs represent a compelling vision of accomplished teaching and leadership, promoting a culture in which everyone improves.

– Ron Thorpe, CEO National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

Teachers and principals in MSFE districts have been developing new evaluation instruments aimed at offering educators regular feedback about their practice from peers, supervisors, students, and parents. This school year, the group has focused on refining the components that make up the teacher and leader evaluation programs and on aligning performance-based pay programs with district goals and priorities.  

I have been able to develop a greater appreciation of the intense work needed to happen in order to have greater student outcomes. I have had the opportunity to work with a variety of stakeholders as we dig down into the details of teacher effectiveness, staff professional development and teacher incentives. I have been able to reflect on my own practice as a teacher and as a leader at my school. I have felt that my voice has been heard as our group has had one resounding goal throughout the improve student learning.

—Amanda Winslow, Grade 1 teacher, Montello Elementary School, Lewiston

Maine wins second TIF grant to extend work to new schools

In the fall of 2012, Maine was awarded a second TIF grant to expand on the work that began in 2010. Four additional districts—including 19 new schools—will now work together to build upon previous efforts. Maine’s second TIF grant allows participating schools and districts to focus more broadly on a comprehensive human capital management system that includes the following components:

  • Educator preparation
  • Employment
  • Evaluation and professional growth
  • Recognition and reward
  • School environment

These elements are supported by research as keys to meaningful and sustainable improvements in educator effectiveness.

An opportunity for Maine’s teachers and students

MSFE presents an opportunity for Maine to become a model for how strategic, coordinated efforts to address educator effectiveness can develop across a diverse group of districts.

Through these grants, the Maine DOE has partnered with nationally recognized organizations to bring research-based ideas and strategies to the state. MSFE is committed to helping districts to appropriately modify and customize these strategies and systems to best meet local needs. In addition, MSFE  focuses on involving stakeholders in the design and implementation of these initiatives.

For more information, please visit the Questions & Answers page or submit an inquiry to As MSFE evolves, the program will be sharing useful information, including model rubrics, templates, and technical guides, that will benefit districts across Maine. These tools can be found on the Resources page

Picture of title page of the TIF 4 Capstone Report

Click here to access the TIF 4 Capstone Report 2017


Contact Maine Schools for Excellence