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Great Public Schools Criteria for Maine

Great Public Schools Criteria refers to the seven elements needed for closing the achievement gaps and raising achievement for all students. The seven elements are: (1) readiness to learn, (2) high expectations, (3) quality conditions, (4) qualified staff, (5) accountability, (6) parental involvement, and (7) funding.

Read more below about the Great Public Schools Criteria in Maine.

Readiness to Learn

The first public school programs for four-year-olds in Maine were established in 1981, when Title 20-A was enacted.

Title 20-A, Maine Education and School Statutes, Chapter 213: Student eligibility, Section 520, sub. Section 2 (c) allowed any child who would be at least four years old on October 15th of the school year to be enrolled in a two-year early childhood program prior to grade one if one was offered and to be counted for subsidy on the October and April enrollment forms.
In 1983-84, the Department of Education began offering that two-year Early Childhood Program grants (requiring matching funds) to school administrative units for the start-up of Early Childhood Programs. The two-year grant programs continued from 1983-84 through 1990-91 assisting 74 school administrative units in developing Early Childhood programs. Some of these early programs were demonstration sites for the High Scope Curriculum. Starting in 1991-92, state funds for start up costs were no longer available but General Purpose Aid continued for existing and new approved programs. Many school administrative units chose not to continue these programs. By 1997-98, there were only twenty-seven four-year-old programs offered throughout the state.

Maine is one of six states that fund public preK experiences through the school funding formula. Vermont, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and West Virginia are the others.

Why has there been renewed interest in public school programs for four-year-old children?

Maine law, 20-A MRSA c. 307-A. establishes and maintains a coordinated service delivery system for eligible children and their families. This system of care is the Child Development Services (CDS) System. Statewide coverage is established by a network of regional sites which ensure the coordination and delivery of services designed to meet the developmental (for children ages B-2) and educational (for children ages 3-5) needs of eligible children and their families. These regional sites are governed by Boards of Directors whose responsibilities are prescribed by law.

The Child Development Services System is committed to the greatest level of flexibility, creativity and personalization of the service delivery system in Maine. This statewide commitment to serving efficiently the needs of children and families, including those historically underrepresented and those on Indian reservations, requires full utilization of available resources and the implementation of procedures and methods of evaluation and service delivery, as well as procedures for safeguarding the rights of families and children B-5 that are consistent for the whole population eligible for services. This commitment also includes the responsibility to empower parents in the early intervention process so that they have the necessary information to:

  1. participate, if they choose, in the process of identifying the needs of their children and the services for which they may be eligible
  2. gain access to essential services, such as adequate nutrition, suitable shelter, preventive health care

(Maine Department of Education Chapter 180: Early Intervention and Special Education for Children Age Birth to Under Age Six)

(Also see Child Development Services)

Full-day Kindergarten. State Policy: A definition of the minimum number of hours for full-day kindergarten is not specified in Maine state statutes. Districts are not required to offer full-day kindergarten and children are not required to attend. Maine provides the same level of funding for grades K-12.
(Education Commission of the States [ECS] Kindergarten Database, 2007)

Quality Conditions

NEA Grant to Close Achievement Gaps

The Maine Education Association plans to use its NEA Grant to Close Achievement Gaps to change state regulations to provide a structured, mentorship program for professionals working in low-performing schools, and work with the state's new Professional Practices Board to require local association sign-off on Title II professional development plans. They also plan to continue MEA’s involvement in revising Maine's "Learning Results," which covers standards, assessments, and accountability requirements, and to provide travel and/or stipends for member mentors to provide technical assistance to close the gaps in five low-performing, high-poverty districts. For more information, contact project coordinator Ellen Holmes (

Recruitment and Retention

Maine has state policies that support alternative routes to certification, maximum class size, classroom discipline requirements for tenure as well as state retirement policies. In addition, there are policies for teacher recognition programs, sabbatical, teacher exchange opportunities, and certification/licensure of educators from outside the state.

Statewide Financial Incentives: The Teacher Recognition Grants Program is a state-funded program that recognizes the importance of teachers in Maine's schools. Its purpose is to retain and attract intelligent people into the profession by providing state-funded recognition grants. The Hannaford Teacher Renewal Scholarship Fund was established in the University of Maine System in 1990. Eligible applicants must be currently practicing certified teachers in k-12 classrooms in Maine with significant teaching responsibilities in the areas of mathematics, science, or foreign language. 
20A MRSA §13501 through §13509
Maine's Public Universities System Wide Services and Offices—Hannaford Teacher Renewal Scholarship Fund

Alternative Routes to Certification: There is no alternative route to certification in Maine. Individuals who are not eligible for a certificate or endorsement by way of completion of a teacher preparation program or out-of state certification may be eligible for a certificate through an alternative pathway.
CMR 05-071-115 (4.2C)

Maximum Class Size: The initiatives local units may elect to develop may include reducing the student-teacher ratio in all classrooms within one or more grades, kindergarten through grade three, to a recommended ratio of 15:1 and a maximum of 18:1.
20A MRSA §4251 and §4252

Classroom Discipline Policies: A teacher or other person entrusted with the care and supervision of students may not be held liable for the use of a reasonable degree of force against the student who creates a disturbance if the teacher believes that it's necessary to control the disturbing behavior. Also, the teacher is justified in using a reasonable degree of force in order to remove the student from the scene of the disturbance. 
20A MRSA §4009

Requirements for Tenure: The superintendent shall nominate all teachers, subject to such regulations governing salaries and the qualifications of teachers as the school board shall make. Upon the approval of nominations, by the school board, the superintendent may employ teachers so nominated and approved for such terms as the superintendent may deem proper, subject to the approval of the school board. Prior to May 15th before the expiration of a first or second year probationary teacher's contract, the superintendent shall notify the teacher in writing of the superintendent's decision to nominate or not nominate that teacher for another teaching contract. After a probationary period not to exceed two years, subsequent contracts of duly certified teachers shall be for not less than two years. Unless a duly certified teacher receives written notice to the contrary at least six months before the terminal date of the contract, the contract shall be extended automatically for one year and similarly in subsequent years. The right to an extension for a longer period of time through a new contract is specifically reserved to the contracting parties.
20A MRSA §13201

Rights of Tenure: A school board, after investigation, due notice of hearing and hearing thereon, shall dismiss any teacher, although having the requisite certificate, who proves unfit to teach or whose services the board deems unprofitable to the school and give to that teacher a certificate of dismissal and of the reasons for the dismissal, a copy of which the board shall retain. That dismissal shall not deprive the teacher of compensation for previous services.
20A MRSA §13202

Teacher Recognition Programs and Policies: Maine offers a Teacher of the Year Program. This program does not attempt to single out any individual as the best teacher in Maine, but rather to honor one teacher who represents all the excellent teachers in Maine. Also, the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards provide recognition and unrestricted financial awards of $25,000 each to exceptional elementary and secondary school teachers, principals, and other specialists who are furthering excellence in our nation's schools.
DOE Teacher of the Year.
DOE Milken National Educator Awards

Sabbatical Policies: The school board has the authority to grant a leave of absence to any teacher, principal, or other person regularly employed. The leave of absence may not exceed one year and may be granted only after seven years of service.
20A MRSA §13604

Certification/Licensure of Educators from Other States: Applicant certified in other states must meet successful completion of a preparation program in a state with which Maine is participating in the Interstate Compact.
CMR 05-071-115 (4.2B)