Originally published in Castine Patriot, May 22, 2014
Castine’s a “B,” Penobscot a “C” in state report card
by Anne Berleant
For the second year in a row, The Maine Department of Education has bestowed a letter grade to public elementary and high schools based on 2012-13 standardized test scores, school attendance and, for high schools, SAT test participation among juniors.
Surry was given an A for the second year; Castine received a B; and Blue Hill, Brooksville, Brooklin, Penobscot and Sedgwick schools were given Cs. In a repeat of last year, George Stevens Academy’s grade was dropped by one letter for having below a 95 percent SAT participation rate; they were given a C.
“Education is not a race, not a competition, but you wonder how you stack up with everyone else,” said Union 76 Superintendent Mark Jenkins. (Union 93 Superintendent Mark Hurvitt was away this week and unavailable for comment.)
Castine saw a one grade rise and Blue Hill saw a one grade drop; the rest remained the same as last year.
“The report cards are measuring very specific areas of improvement,” said Sheila Irvine, special education director for Union 93, and acting superintendent in Hurvitt’s absence.
For Blue Hill Consolidated School, which saw its grade drop from last year’s B, the irony is that the school was named one of only 19 “high performing” schools by the Maine DOE just last March, based on its levels of improvement and performance.
“That’s the great mystery of the state’s testing system,” said Principal Della Martin. “One month it’s a top performing school and the next month is a C.”
The Maine DOE based 25 percent of a school’s grade on overall scores in reading, 25 percent on overall scores in math, 25 percent on overall growth in achievement from the previous year’s test, and 25 percent on overall growth in achievement on the bottom 25 percent of students.
Among Maine’s 540 public schools, 50 received an A grade, 71 a B, and 269 a C—lower numbers across the board than in 2012-13—while the schools receiving a D increased from 74 to 85. Those that received an F increased from 41 to 65. Locally, the only school to receive an F last year—Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School—received a C.
“I think all of our schools are A schools,” said Irvine. “They all do wonderful things to include students and improve education, and perhaps the report cards do not reflect the may different ways that’s being done.”