Schools in Regional School Units 13 and 40 received C and D grades on a new statewide school grading system.

During Gov. Paul LePage's State of the State address in February he announced the Maine Performance Grading System would introduced for schools to provide students, parents, taxpayers and others easy to understand information on how their schools are doing. The system is similar to report cards students get that help parents understand how their children are doing in school, according to information from the Maine Department of Education.

The reports highlights third- to eighth-grade schools, as well as high schools. Schools were given a grade between A and F. Schools across Maine received a C-average.

RSU 13 Superintendent Lew Collins criticized the report May 2, saying the scope of school work has been narrowed down to one letter grade measuring two subjects.

The system assesses math and reading scores as reported on New England Common Assessment Program, or NECAP and Maine's alternate assessment system, Personalized Alternate Assessment Portfolio or PAAP. It also measures the progress of the bottom 25 percent of students in progress in reading and math as well as graduation rates.

Collins noted science, art, music, physical education, drama, computer and student well-being were not assessed.

"We are always laser-focused on student achievement," Collins said, noting district assessments are constantly reviewed with teachers and administrators to spot trends. "This is not new news, we know where we need to improve in terms of reading and math."

Collins also said demographic factors such as economic disadvantages were not taken into consideration. He noted that research shows the mother's level of educational attainment is a significant driver in academic performance of their children.

"These state grades should only be one indicator of the school's quality. What is really important is what happens in a school for students. Factors such as housing district-wide special needs programs in a single school can adversely affect the grades of the school housing that program. Another factor that influences student achievement is regular school attendance," RSU 40 School Superintendent Susan Pratt posted on the district website.

A total of 215 Maine elementary schools received a C, while 42 received an A and 49 with an F.

In RSU 13 and 40, Cushing Community School did the best, receiving an A, while Miller School in Waldoboro received an F. Overall RSU 13 elementary schools got a C, while RSU 40 third- to eighth-grades got a D.

For high schools, 66 state high schools received a C, while 40 schools achieved an A and 18 received an F.

Collins said he was assured by the state that Oceanside High School West would not be counted since it is a new high school, but it was given a C. Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro also received a C.

On average, 62.8 percent of RSU 13 third- to eighth-grade students scored proficient or above on the 2012-2013 NECAP and 2011-2012 PAAP. They scored 70.7 percent for reading.

In RSU 40, 53.9 percent of third- to eighth-graders scored proficient or above on the tests. For reading, 59.1 percent. At MVHS, 52.3 were proficient in math and 47.7 were proficient in reading.

"No one in the education field today believes that one standardized test is an accurate measure of student progress and most important, the quality of school," Pratt wrote.

However, Pratt said in the post, the district takes state grades seriously and all building administrators are currently reviewing RSU 40 scores along with other assessment data to determine any adjustments that may need to be made.

Thirteen other states and New York City have A-F school grading systems in place, with many similarities among them. In seeking a system that would work for Maine, these were examined, according to Department of Education information. Florida's system was closely examined, as well as Oklahoma and Indiana.

"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," information from the Department of Education states.

To see full detailed school reports, go to maine.gov/doe/schoolreportcards/reportcards/index.html

Courier Publications Copy Editor Kim Lincoln can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at klincoln@courierpublicationsllc.com.