Five Town schools receive high marks on state report card
Camden Hills Regional High School, Camden-Rockport Middle School and Camden-Rockport Elementary School "were given what would commonly be interpreted to be good or excellent grades" based on the introduction of an A through F grading system proposed by Gov. Paul LePage, according to Superintendent Elaine Nutter.
Lincolnville Central School received an A, Appleton Village School was graded at a C level and Hope Elementary School also ranked an A, according to the state website.
An overview of the grading system states "The goals of A-F grading are to provide a starting point, with easy-to-understand and concise information showing how a school is doing, and to make sure that schools are accountable for explaining that to their communities." According to the website, there are 13 other states, as well as New York City, that use a similar grading system for schools.
Report cards for each school detail student achievement levels as well as growth. Grades for elementary schools are based on third- through eighth-grade, as are middle school grades. The reports are based on several years worth of data.
The overview indicated there will be state-level support for struggling schools that previously were not eligible for federal improvement funds.
"We'll use this funding to assist underperforming schools with direct funds and with technical assistance," the report states.
Appleton Village School
Appleton Village School received one of the lower rankings — a C. Students at that school were below the state average for math proficiency as well as progress shown by students requiring additional help in reading.
Camden-Rockport Elementary School
At Camden-Rockport Elementary School, students, for the most part, ranked above the state average. The bottom 25 percent of students' progress in reading, however, fell below state averages.
Hope Elementary School
Students in Hope ranked above the state average in all categories, earning the school an A.
Lincolnville Central School
In each of the categories measuring proficiency and growth, Lincolnville students ranked above state averages.The elementary school earned a grade of A.
Camden-Rockport Middle School
Area middle school students scored above the Maine averages in each category, earning the school an A grade on the state report card.
Camden Hills Regional High School
In addition to growth and proficiency, the graduation rate also was factored into Camden Hills Regional High School's B grade. According to the state report card, the high school has a graduation rate of nearly 95 percent during a four-year period ending in 2012 and a graduation rate of 93 percent during a five-year period ending in 2012.
Nutter said in a letter sent to parents and members of the community there are three points to consider when looking at the state rankings. First, she said, "a school cannot be summed up in one grade." She went on to explain the report card grades are based on New England Common Assessment Program or NECAP test results for elementary schools and Maine High School Assessment testing, such as the SATs, at the high school level.
"Because this grade is largely based on scores from a single test, it provided a narrowly defined view of school," Nutter said.
The superintendent noted pride at the high graduation rate but also said at small schools, such as Camden Hills, a single student can change the graduation percentage.
Secondly, "the method used to to grade schools is inconsistent with professional research and contrary to our knowledge about how to improve student achievement," according to Nutter, who went on to say, "...there is a real risk of oversimplification."
Her third point addressed the Five Town Community School District and School Administrative District 28 approach to education, which she described as "very focused multi-year goals" which includes a standards-based system of learning. Nutter said skills needed for success in college, careers and civic life are a priority.
"Students will progress through the standards at an individualized pace based upon their learning need," she said. "...We are in the process of developing a plan for program evaluation, which is based upon the value of continuous review in order to improve of (sic) every aspect of the schools system."
Upgrades to technology and the middle school facility also are expected to contribute to improvements in students' experiences at school.
"In summary, the stated intention of the A-F grading of schools is one that is shared: to improve the education of all of our students and to increase discussion around educational issues of local schools. While there are aspects of the process that are debatable, the expectation of continual improvement is common to all who work in and support our schools," Nutter said.
Camden Herald Associate Editor Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 236-8511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.