The Maine Schools for Excellence (MSFE) TIF 4 initiative is designing and implementing a comprehensive human capital management system (HCMS) to attract, support, and retain great teachers and leaders; increase student learning; and narrow the achievement gap. The work is concentrated in 21 high-need schools spread over four local education agencies (LEAs). Based in part on its experience and success in TIF 3, Maine has developed an educator evaluation and professional growth program that includes student growth as a significant measure, as well as an integrated performance-based compensation program that rewards educators for performance on a balanced set of locally defined and strategically aligned measures and targets. Maine’s 21 participating high-need schools represent approximately 95 percent of the total students across the four participating LEAs. One of participating LEAs is rural; two are in towns; and one is in a city. Maine has a surging population of foreign-born English learners and the highest poverty rate in New England.
Key objectives of the TIF 4 MFSE project include the implementation of a teacher and leader evaluation program anchored in the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards' (NBPTS) Standards for Accomplished Teachers and Leaders; integration of individual and group evaluation results into a sound and sustainable performance-based compensation system; use of a longitudinal data system to inform policy and practice related to key human capital decisions; and regular, ongoing communication and involvement with project stakeholders throughout the design and implementation of the project. Maine will assess progress toward its goals through annual program evaluation that focuses on indicators of both implementation and outcomes.
Participating districts spent much of Year 1 collaborating with teachers, leaders, and other key stakeholders from within and across TIF districts to design, develop, and plan the launch of their Teacher Evaluation and Professional Growth (TEPG), Leader Evaluation and Professional Growth (LEPG), and performance-based Recognition and Reward (R&R) programs. These three programs represent fundamental components of Maine's HCMS. In addition, a cross-grant (TIF 3 and TIF 4) workgroup of teachers and leaders, facilitated by outside experts, came together to create a common framework for developing and approving student learning objectives (SLOs).
The SLO framework, along with Maine's model TEPG, LEPG, and R&R programs is available at the
TIF Maine Schools for Excellence Resources page,
a website developed during Year 1 as part of MSFE's strategic communications plan.
In Year 2, Maine TIF launched the TEPG, LEPG, and R&R programs in all four districts. Teachers and leaders received specialized and tailored training in all aspects of these programs. For the TEPG and LEPG training, Maine emphasized professional practice standards; professional growth goals; SLOs; peer and classroom observations; and use of data for collaborative, improvement-focused conversations about practice. District- and state-level steering committees gathered input and ideas from multiple stakeholders to inform refinements to TEPG and LEPG programs and the system as a whole. At the end of the school year, all eligible teachers and leaders received performance-based reward and recognition. All educators received a personalized R&R report detailing how incentives were earned, accompanied by a letter from the Superintendent. MSFE leadership convened a Teacher Advisory Group (TAG) for the purpose of gathering feedback from teachers experiencing and implementing various aspects of the project. The TAG consulted on the new evaluation system and processes, student perception surveys, the R&R framework, training and professional development, communication, and the overall approach to the HCMS work.
In Year 3, steering committees from each TIF district continued to monitor and refine the TEPG, LEPG, and R&R programs to ensure alignment with district goals and priorities. Project and program communication and evaluation also continued during Year 3 and took many forms, including face-to-face meetings, written materials, and surveys. Training of educators and evaluators occurred throughout the year. Professional development was delivered primarily through a professional learning cohort structure and focused on topics such as differentiation, higher order thinking, and assessments. Teacher leaders served as cohort facilitators and were trained by MSFE staff. Performance-based rewards and recognition were distributed to eligible educators at the end of the school year. With TEPG, LEPG and R&R programs in place, focus shifted to Phase 2 of Maine's HCMS work--Educator Preparation, Employment, and School Environment.
MSFE formed two working groups (School Environment and Educator Preparation / Employment) and charged each with thinking critically and creatively about district strategies and partnership opportunities for strengthening HCMS connections and coherence. Membership in each of these working groups includes representatives from key stakeholder groups, such as the Maine Education Association, Maine Principals Association, Maine School Management Association, Maine State Board of Education, Maine DOE, higher education, and the business community. The status of work for each of these groups follows.
School Climate Workgroup goals:
* To provide a comprehensive resource library for MSFE districts to use (as appropriate) in assessing school climate and working conditions. [Completed: TIF Maine Schools for Excellence Resources page]
* To measure school climate within MSFE districts from multiple perspectives and across four dimensions: safety, relationships, teaching and learning, external environment. [Completed: TIF Maine Schools for Excellence Resources page]
*To provide guidance and professional development to school leaders and educators to support effective use of school climate data and implementation of improvement strategies. [Current activities include: Guidance document in process; Development of professional development modules to be ready for implementation in fall 2016]
Educator Preparation and Employment Workgroup goals:
* To deepen partnerships between universities and K-12 schools [Current activities include: needs assessment survey administered to TIF teachers and leaders in the fall 2014]
* To engage university faculty in promoting teacher and principal leadership and collaboration [Current activities include: (a) six elementary teachers from TIF schools participating in a pilot Math Coaching preparation program in partnership with the University of Maine at Farmington; (b) planning the development of principal leadership modules that align with LEPG standards; and (c) planning teacher leadership work initiated at the Teach-to-Lead Summit in Virginia]
* To develop human capital employment protocols and supports (recruitment, selection, induction and mentoring, professional growth) that align with TEPG and LEPG professional practice standards and expectations [Current activities include: assembled a sub-committee to research and begin drafting employment resources (tools/protocols/templates) that support human capital planning, posting, screening, selection, induction, mentoring, etc. and are customizable with district vision, values and TEPG/LEPG evaluation standards and expectations.]
In Year 4, the work of Maine's School Environment and Educator Preparation and Employment Workgroups continued. The status of goals each of these groups set follows.
School Environment Workgroup goals:
- To provide a comprehensive resource library for MSFE districts to use (as appropriate) in assessing school climate and working conditions. [Completed: TIF Maine Schools for Excellence Resources page]
- To measure school climate within MSFE districts from multiple perspectives and across four dimensions: safety, relationships, teaching and learning, external environment. [Completed: TIF Maine Schools for Excellence Resources page]
- To provide guidance and professional development to school leaders and educators to support effective use of school climate data and implementation of improvement strategies. [Completed: (a) Guidance document for using climate to improve teaching and learning and (b) Adapted EDSCL professional development modules for MSFE district use beginning in 2016/2017]
Educator Preparation and Employment Workgroup goals:
- To deepen partnerships between universities and PK-12 schools [Completed: (a) Needs assessment survey administered to TIF teachers and leaders and (b) Recommendations drafted for strengthening connections between educator preparation institutions and PK-12 schools to promote and help to ensure equitable access to effective educators for all students]
- To engage university faculty and staff in promoting teacher and principal leadership and collaboration [Completed: (a) five elementary teachers from TIF schools participated in a pilot Math Coaching preparation program in partnership with the University of Maine at Farmington, (b) developed principal leadership professional development modules that accompany and support deep understanding of LEPG professional practice standards, and (c) advanced Maine's teacher leadership work initiated at the Teach-to-Lead Summit in Virginia]
- To develop human capital employment protocols and supports for teacher and leader recruitment, selection, induction and mentoring, and professional growth that align with TEPG and LEPG professional practice standards and expectations [Completed: (a) Developed job descriptions, sample employment advertisements, and interview protocols for teacher and principal positions that reflect TEPG and LEPG program standards and expectations and (b) developed sample exit interview and survey protocol for gathering information on factors contributing to teacher and principal turnover.]
In Year 5, the MSFE team will facilitate a final review and refinement of the TEPG and LEPG rubrics, companion guides, and professional development modules to reflect best practice and lessons learned in the field. The MSFE statewide SLO Workgroup will convene for the fourth consecutive year to reflect on and make any final adjustments to the SLO framework, guidelines, and supports. District steering committees will review criteria for recognizing and rewarding performance and leadership and calibrate them to align with local goals and priorities. Professional development for teacher and leaders will continue at elbow and in group training sessions, using modules tailored to each professional practice standard. MSFE will continue to administer classroom climate surveys and leadership 360 surveys in the spring to inform teacher and leader evaluation and professional growth. A new survey (EDSCL), developed by the U.S. Department of Education, will be administered in the fall, followed by a series of six professional development modules delivered to teacher-led climate workgroups to guide districts in the use of climate data to improve teaching and learning conditions. MSFE will field text, further refine, and finalize employment tools. MSFE will develop and field test an automated human resource planning tool for forecasting district-level educator supply and demand. The Educator Preparation workgroup will expand its membership to include all of Maine's educator preparation institutions and continue to take steps to finalize and prioritize the Workgroup's recommendations for strengthening higher education and PK-12 partnerships. MSFE will establish a sustainability workgroup in each district to review all TIF innovations and activities and make recommendations on each to the governing board in each district.
Maine has taken a strategic and phased-in approach to its teacher and leader recognition and reward programs. Based on principles of sound incentive system design and implementation, districts are using a balanced scorecard approach to creating, communicating, and calculating R&R opportunity for educators. Using this common framework, teacher and leader scorecards are tailored to each position using a blend of individual and team measures over which educators have direct influence. MSFE and district steering committees review teacher and leader scorecard frameworks before each school year begins and calibrate them as needed to ensure alignment with TEPG, LEPG, and annual district and school priorities and plans. All educators have the same variable pay potential, but actual incentives earned are based on overall scorecard performance and distributed to educators annually accompanied by a personalized R&R report. During Phase 1 of Maine's R&R work, MSFE layered variable pay on top of base pay. In Phase 2, base and variable pay blend into a total rewards structure and strategy that is fair, fiscally sound, and culturally compatible. Supporting districts as they build awareness of and consider phase 2 alternatives to the traditional pay system is a priority for Year 5.