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Unanimous votes for ESEA waiver, evaluation bills

NCLB Waiver

The Education Committee Wednesday unanimously supported bills that will help the state keep its waiver of No Child Left Behind and give districts an extra year to pilot and implement teacher and principal evaluation systems.

The federal government had informed Maine its waiver of NCLB, officially known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), was in jeopardy because of concern with language in the state’s teacher and principal evaluation law. Without the waiver the state would have to return to a ranking system that deemed schools as “failing” if 100 percent of their students were not proficient in reading and math.

The U.S. Department of Education wanted Maine to make clear that statewide assessments must be used in any teacher and principal evaluation system. Since the only statewide assessments in place right now are in English and math, the bill, L.D. 692, An Act Regarding Educator Effectiveness, explicitly states that it applies to teachers of record in those areas and principals.

The bill also modifies the rule connected to statute giving more clarity to districts on what is expected of them as they work to develop their evaluation systems in the field.

The committee also voted unanimously to support L.D. 38, An Act to Allow Sufficient Time for Implementation of the Performance Evaluation and Professional Growth System for Educators. It gives districts an extra year to pilot their evaluation system and an extra year to implement. Piloting under L.D. 38 would be required in 2015-2016 and implementation in 2016-2017.

The deadline for when local planning committees have to reach consensus on their evaluation plans would also be extended slightly, from June 1 to July 15 of this year.

The bills now will go to the full Legislature for approval.

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