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More in News
Oxford Hills schools low test scores will require changes
OXFORD — Curriculum Director Kathy Elkins told the Oxford Hills School District Board of Directors recently that its appears almost certain the district will be designated a continuous improvement priority district for its underachieving math test scores.
The designation is based on the aggregate district test score data for grades three through five, six to eight, and two years of high school data for grade 11.
The district is expected to be officially notified of the designation in October, Elkins said. It means the district must set aside 10 percent of Title 1 funding, or $95,000, for districtwide staff development and develop a district plan for academic improvement, among other initiatives.
Although the New England Common Assessment Program scores were reported in February, the district has not known for sure what the adequate yearly progress implications would be until now, she said.
Adequate yearly progress is used in the federal No Child Left Behind Act to describe the amount of academic progress expected of each school each year. It's based on scores from grades 3-8 and 11. Maine also includes average daily attendance for the elementary/middle grades and graduation rates for high schools.
The adequate yearly progress component in Maine requires that 75 percent of students meet the proficient benchmark for reading and 70 percent for mathematics. Or a school must show enough growth in test results from one year to the next to gain “safe harbor” status, which makes scoring allowances based on the number of students receiving special education and economically disadvantaged students.
Because the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School SAT scores dropped from last year, officials know they did not make safe harbor status, Elkins said.
Math results showed elementary schools in Paris, Harrison, Hebron, Agnes Gray in West Paris and Waterford made adequate yearly progress.
The Rowe Elementary School in Norway, Otisfield Community School and the Oxford Hills Middle School in Paris were moved to monitor status.
Oxford Elementary School and Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School are in continuous improvement priority school status. The high school is on CIPS status for the second year in a row.
In reading, the Agnes Gray Elementary School, Waterford Memorial and Hebron Elementary School made adequate yearly progress this year.
The Oxford Hills Middle School and the Rowe, Harrison and Otisfield elementary schools are on monitor status.
The Paris Elementary School is on CIPS1 status, Oxford Elementary is on CIPS3 and the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School is on CIPS2.
The numbers designate the number of years the school has been on CIPS status, Elkins said.
Not making adequate yearly progress has consequences for individual schools only if they are receiving Title I funds. Schools receiving Title I funds include Agnes Gray, Paris, Rowe, Harrison and Oxford elementary.
Elkins said the news is not surprising. For last year, only 184 out of 608 schools in Maine made adequate yearly progress, including those in Bethel, Poland, Brunswick, Falmouth, South Portland, Scarborough and Yarmouth.
Last year, districts on monitor status included RSU 9 in Farmington, SAD 52 in Turner and the Bangor School District.
Those on continuous improvement priority district status for varying numbers of years are Auburn, Standish, Rumford, Gray-New Gloucester, Windham-Raymond, Sanford, Westbrook, Portland and Lewiston.
“Doesn't that tell us something?” asked Hebron School Board Director Elizabeth Swift.
Elkins said the scores reflect the impact of the budget deficit from several years ago when 35.5 full-time teaching positions were lost, class sizes increased and many fifth- and sixth-grade classes were moved to other schools. There was also a reduction in administration and a budget that was 12 percent below the state's essential programs and service mandate that determines what the state feels is an adequate budget for effective learning.
Additionally, the state significantly reduced the number of special education students who were allowed to take the personal assessment portfolios tests. They were forced to take the New England Common Assessment Program tests.
Elkins said the school will continue to implement its continuous improvement plan process for individual schools and create a districtwide improvement plan for mathematics.
“This is the first year we are implementing most of our schoolwide plans. We're hoping that will make a difference,” Elkins said.