Implementing the Maine Learning Results

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1 I. Introduction Implementing the Maine Learning Results My project is to document how three Washington County High Schools; Narraguagus High School, Machias Memorial High School, and Washington Academy, are implementing the Maine Learning Results. The Learning Results identify the knowledge and skills essential to prepare Maine students for work, for higher education, for citizenship, and for personal fulfillment. (State of Maine Learning Results, p. ii, July 1997) Teachers plan lessons in all content areas to meet the Learning Results (which are academic goals) with performance indicators (students ability to apply knowledge and skills taught). Students are assessed to see if standards are achieved. There are a number of methods used to assess students. Administrators and teachers have designed a local assessment system, the use of observation, rubrics, and tests to assess the progress of their students in the classroom. Why was it important to document this? In looking at the Policy Process, evaluations shouldn t be done in the absence of clear documentation of what is being done to implement the Maine Learning Results. II. Methods of Research A. Interviews Principals and Teachers I began my research by interviewing the principals/headmasters from each high school and learning how they are implementing the Maine Learning Results. B. Observations All three high schools were accommodating for they set up times for me to either interview teachers or observe classes. I interviewed teachers in the following Departments: English, Math, Science, Spanish, and Art. What I found is that teachers plan lessons to achieve the Maine Learning Results, teach to the four learning styles, and assess the learning progress of their students by observing, using inquiry methods, testing, and using rubrics. III. Findings A. Strategies High schools use the following strategies to implement the Learning Results: 1) Curriculum Revision Each of the three high schools either added or dropped courses to meet the learning needs of students. 2) Learning labs - Two high schools offer learning labs with certified teachers, for students who need to improve skills in math and/or English. One high school only offers study labs.

2 3) Portfolios - In all three high schools, advisers meet with their advisees to go over Portfolios and students academic progress. Portfolios are collections of student work representing a selection of performance in all content areas. Portfolios are used to support new instructional approaches with an emphasis on the students role in constructing understanding and the teacher s role in promoting understanding. 4) Rubrics are used in all three high schools to measure each student s progress in each lesson covered. Rubrics tell a learner tips to improve their performance in each content area. 5) State of Maine Education Web page Teachers from all three high schools download Maine s Assessment Portfolio (MAP) which supports teachers in assessing students achievements of the Maine Learning Results and the Local Assessment Development (LAD) which is aligned with the Learning Results and offers districts reliable and valid assessments to use in the classroom. Teachers use the State of Maine Education web page in planning lessons, assessing students, and applying teaching strategies in the classroom. 6) Local Assessment System All three high schools use templates from the Nine Steps to Developing the Certification Portion of the Local Assessment System, Washington County Consortium, in each content area to show how lessons meet the Maine Learning Results. 7) Learning Style Pedagogy Teachers in two high schools plan lessons and teach to the learning styles of their students. They also use teaching strategies to help students get more from their learning. 8) Washington County Consortium for School Improvement (WCC) works in partnership with the school districts of Washington County, the University of Maine at Machias and the Washington County Community College in Calais. The goal Superintendents had when they formed WCC in 1994 was to help improve the schools in the county. WCC was designed as a support for the learning of educators and their students. B. Professional Development One way that Administrators and teachers used their Professional Development time is by improving teaching strategies that help students become successful learners. All three high schools have received further training in the four learning preferences and how to teach lessons in task rotation teaching to the four learning styles, so that all students become more involved in the learning process. C. DECLA - (Downeast Collaborative Learning Alliance) Part of the DECLA grant was to allow teachers from five high schools in Washington County, along with Washington County Consortium (WCC), in collaboration with DECLA, shared common workshop days to design assessments. The five high schools are: Narraguagus High School, Machias Memorial High School, Jonesport Beals High School, Shead High School in Eastport, and Lubec High School. Each Department in the five schools got Lorena Gay, UMM Policy Scholar 2

3 together and used templates from the Nine Steps to Developing the Certification Portion of the Local Assessment System, in each discipline showing how lessons meet the Maine Learning Results. MAPS and LADS are taken from the State of Maine web page when planning lessons and assessing students. They follow the process from the Nine Step Notebook. Betty Jordan, director of the WCC, worked with Craig Kesselheim, facilitator of DECLA along with Kathy McAvoy director of the Regional Teacher Development Center Network (RTDC), and the administrators who meet monthly. In addition, WCC offers a series of four induction workshops throughout the year for new teachers who work in any of the high schools in Washington County. Mathew Oliver, Dean of Academics from Dover-Foxcroft Academy met with teachers and Administrators from Washington Academy to implement the plan they were using in meeting the Learning Results. Dover-Foxcroft Academy was one of the first high schools in the State of Maine to ( develop LAS in 2005 Judson McBrine) set their standards to the National and State Standards (Joe McBrine). D. Advisors/Advisees and Portfolios Meeting graduation requirements began with last year s freshmen keeping portfolios and meeting with their advisors to prepare academic goals for local assessments. Students met with their advisors; there are (10 to 12 advisees per advisor at NHS), (6-8 advisees per advisor at WA), (12-15advisees to two advisors, male and female, at MMHS) to learn how to set up their portfolios. The first page would be a listing of their History-highlights/achievements, Interests, Dreams, Goals, Strengths/Gifts/Talents and Challenges/Needs/Concerns. This steers the students towards their academic goals. The portfolios are divided into sections: a Personal Learning Plan with a four-year plan, yearly goals, learning styles inventory, and student information sheet. The content areas are: English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Fine Arts, Life Skills, and Physical Education/Health. Next is the Career section, followed by Community Service, and Best Work. When students are seniors; their portfolios will show how each has met the Maine Learning Results. Students portfolios will go with them upon graduation and will be used for interviews at colleges and/or the regular workplace. E. Student led conferences During the Student led conferences, parents learn, some for the first time, what their teen s interests, goals and dreams are. Teens do not always share this information with their parents. Since doing student led conferences, high schools have had 98% of parents in attendance. During student led conferences, students showcase their portfolios to their parents and show how they are meeting the Maine Learning Results. Students learn to take their education seriously as they strive to meet graduation requirements. Keeping portfolios has put the responsibility of learning on the shoulders of each student, motivating them to do better academically as well as keeping them focused on their academic goals. For Lorena Gay, UMM Policy Scholar 3

4 students who don t meet assessment standards, they will take replacement tests. By another two years, all high school students will have advisors and keep portfolios in order to meet the Learning Results. IV. Analysis and Conclusion Similarities Teachers are required to continue improving teaching strategies so they may be more successful in helping students achieve the Maine Learning Results. One improved teaching strategy is learning how to use Smart Boards as a way to enhance the instruction, curriculum, assessment and involvement of students in the learning process. New curriculum includes how each lesson meets the Learning Results, which leads to the issue of State Control vs. Local Control. Teachers prefer to have local control and plan their own lessons in the content areas. Even though the State of Maine Education web site is a resource for Educators, information on the implementation of the Maine Learning Results isn t available to parents or to non-educators. As a pre-service teacher and a parent, I learned some information on the implementation of the Maine Learning Results in cooperation of Principals/Headmasters and teachers, but some information isn t available, like the assessments benchmarks in the content areas listed on the State of Maine Education web site at Principals and teachers may access this website or contact Denice Hatch at for a CD containing the benchmarks and commentary for the task, but this information isn t accessible to anyone else. James Roberts, Betty Jordan, (Director of Washington County Consortium), and Tad Johnston designed the Nine Steps to Developing the Certification Portion of the Local Assessment System. Betty Jordan offers workshops to teachers in how to use teaching strategies in the content areas. She uses Teaching Reading in the Content Areas, If Not Me, Then Who? By Rachel Billmeyer, Ph. D. & Mary Lee Barton, M.Ed. in training teachers in how to improve teaching strategies. The DECLA group holds meetings every month when Principals share strategies for implementing the Maine Learning Results in their high schools. High schools have available the Nine Steps Process, for implementing the Learning Results, but it is unclear to what extent it is actually being used. Differences: All three high schools use many of the same strategies for reading. Narraguagus High School uses Engaged Reading with Rules of Notice. The Rules of Notice are strategies students used by engaged readers to bring meaning to what they are reading. They are: titles, beginnings, key details, extended descriptions, changes in direction, setting, point of view, surprises or ruptures, repetition and endings. Machias Memorial High School uses Close Reading skills and the strategies from Write Traits to bring meaning to what they are reading. Close reading strategies teaches Lorena Gay, UMM Policy Scholar 4

5 students how to analyze text through close reading in order to formulate an interpretative thesis. The strategies used are: Before Reading Strategies Brainstorm, predict, skim, assess prior knowledge, preview headings, and learn crucial vocabulary During Reading Strategies Reread, infer, question, support predictions, and summarize After Reading Strategies Reread, confirm predictions, summarize, synthesize, reflect, and question Reading in the Content Areas: Strategies for Success from the website Teaching Today. The 6 Write Traits compliment the Close Reading Strategies used by Machias Memorial High School. These strategies allow teachers, writers, and students to begin thinking about their writing analytically. Washington Academy s information is not available to me at this time. Narraguagus High School held Harvey Silver workshops with teachers receiving further training and coaching in how to teach lessons in task rotation to the four learning styles so that all students achieve success in their learning. Machias Memorial High School had Doris Bonneau, a consultant; teach workshops on the need to Differentiate. Last year, the workshops focused on the learning styles of students and how teachers interact with students. This year, the workshops focused on looking at readiness and tiering lessons to work with students from different learning levels. Washington Academy invited the Dean of Academics from Dover-Foxcroft to share how they were implementing the Maine Learning Results since they were one of the first high schools to set their standards to the National and State Standards. V. Recommendations I recommend additional efforts to document and evaluate the outcome and effectiveness of implementation of Maine Learning Result s in high schools. Questions for further research: Are Policy Makers aware of how schools are implementing the Maine Learning Results and how closely tied they are to graduation requirements? Without clear documentation, they cannot make evaluations, change or revise policy regarding the implementation of Maine Learning Results. Lorena Gay, UMM Policy Scholar 5

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