SAD 61 makes gains in state MEA testing

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Pat Hayden is first to say SAD 61 scores on the recent Maine Assessment tests remain “not where we want to be,” but students did show “some growth” in a number of areas.

“We’re not satisfied,” said Hayden, the assistant superintendent of schools, to school board members Monday night. “We are moving in the right direction. We are moving forward.”

With charts (see accompanying table below) showing the percentage of SAD 61 students “at and above state expectations” projected on a big screen, Hayden told directors that students in Grades 3 through 8 and high school students in Grade 11 took the assessment tests this past spring in the areas of literacy, mathematics and science.

Having two years of data at their disposal, administrators are taking a closer look at areas students succeed in and where shortcomings continue to plague them.

Superintendent of Schools Al Smith pointed out to directors that, when looking at the figures, they should follow a diagonal path across the chart to see how each class fared from Year 1 to Year 2 under the state’s new tests.

For example, last year 31% of sixth graders were at or above state expectations in literacy. Now as seventh graders, the percentage jumped to 44%.

In 2016, 36% of seventh graders were at or above state expectations, and this year’s eighth graders pushed the needle to 51%.

While the news was good on the literacy front, mathematics continues to lag behind state expectations nearly at each grade level. Yet, when one compares a group of students and their performance in 2016 to 2017, some minor gains were made, which officials credit to some changes made and others that have been launched.

Fifth graders in 2016 had 32% of the group at or above state expectations, whereas in 2017 as sixth graders, the figure jumped to 35%. The current eighth grade group showed the most improvement, going from 27% as seventh graders in 2016 to 37% this spring.

As part of an improvement action plan, Hayden said the district implemented the enVision 2.0 math program in Grades K-8, and is using a math coach at the elementary level (available daily).

The math coach observes classroom instruction and then assists teachers with planning and how to present concepts in a “clearer” way to students.

“Nonnegotiables” in content and instruction for both math and ELA (English Language Arts) have been enacted. Hayden explained “nonnegotiables” are certain pieces, which are expected to be covered every day. Schools are also using small group instruction, as well as “centers” in classrooms, where students can access specific work aimed at their particular level of ability.

Another measure is collaboration between Algebra I teachers at the middle and high schools in an attempt to insure that “content is the same throughout.”

Other action plan efforts include:

  • Ongoing professional development for teachers and administrators (the instructional leaders of each building, who could use some helpful tips in regards on providing insightful feedback to teachers following classroom observations);
  • Daily practice for state assessments within class instruction;
  • Teacher specialization in ELA or math in Grade 3, 4 and 5.

Casco Director Stan Buchanan was curious whether officials could see if a student produced low scores in one year, and whether he/she improved the next. Now with two years of data, those comparisons can be made and appropriate remedial action taken.

Buchanan would also like for administrators to find ways to make students more engaged when it comes to test-taking, as well as inspiring seniors to take on a vigorous final educational year rather than shift into cruise control (which could ultimately hurt them when entering their first year of college).

Casco Director Gary Lewis was “shocked” by some of the percentages, but understood it does take time to implement changes to improve performances.

“It’s something that needs to be seriously looked at. Yes, we need to push, push, push,” he said. “This is more important than a new track or sports. It’s the future of our kids.”

Superintendent Smith responded, “We are constantly looking at it.”

In other school board news:

Resignations: Karen Plummer has resigned as an Ed Tech at Lake Region Middle School, effective Sept. 29, 2017.

Adam Johnson has resigned as a Social Studies Teacher at Lake Region High School, effective Oct. 3, 2017.

Hiring: Brenna Chalifour as a full-time Social Studies teacher at Lake Region High School, replacing Adam Johnson, who has resigned.

Chalifour earned a master’s degree in Teaching History from Salem State University in Salem, Mass, and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science/International Studies and a minor in Economics from the University of Southern Maine.

There was one applicant for the position.

Donations: Allison Caulfield donated articles of clothing, valued at $10, to the Songo Locks nurse to have for unexpected situations.

Philip Shane donated a large bag of school supplies, valued at $50, to the Songo Locks School for students in need.

The Magic Lantern Theater in Bridgton donated miscellaneous school supplies, valued at $314 to the Lake Region School District.

Mr. and Mrs. James Macos of Saco donated a Kimball baby-grand piano, valued at $4,000, to Lake Region High School.

Projects: At the Facilities Committee’s Oct. 2 meeting, Director of Maintenance, Transportation and Food Service, Andy Madura, provided an update on the status of the funded capital improvement projects.

The high school track resurfacing has been completed, as was the roofing project at Stevens Brook School.

The bid has been awarded for the LRHS elevator upgrade and equipment has been purchased for a summer of 2018 installment.

Madura briefed the committee on the two traffic/parking improvement projects at the Middle School and Songo Locks School. These projects are currently under DEP review. The projects were reviewed by the Naples Planning Board Tuesday night.

Sue Shea Plaque: Stevens Brook Elementary School Principal Cheryl Turpin addressed the Facilities Committee regarding placement of a stone-type plaque for past staff member, the late Sue Shea.

The committee tabled the request to the next meeting.

Trunk or Treats: The popular pre-Halloween event takes place at Lake Region High School on Saturday, Oct. 28 from 1 to 4 p.m. in the front parking lot area (or if the weather is bad, the event is moved inside the high school gym).

Donations in the form of candy or nonfood items are being accepted and can be dropped off at the high school’s front office.

MEA TESTING

  • State figure is for 2017
  • Bold figures represent negative growth

At & Above State Expectations

LITERACY

Grade 2016 2017 Growth State

3 48% 40% 8% 48%

4 56% 49% 7% 51%

5 53% 60% 7% 56%

6 31% 46% 15% 50%

7 36% 44% 8% 52%

8 29% 51% 22% 52%

11 48% 53% 5% 59%

MATHEMATICS

Grade 2016 2017 Growth State

3 50% 42% 8% 46%

4 34% 27% 7% 44%

5 32% 36% 4% 33%

6 31% 35% 4% 33%

7 27% 30% 3% 41%

8 26% 37% 11% 35%

11 17% 22% 5% 35%

SCIENCE

Grade 2016 2017 Growth State

5 65% 64% 1% 67%

8 68% 77% 9% 77%

11 44% 38% 6% 47%

 

 

Please follow and like us: