The schools are eligible for School Improvement Grants to improve student achievement.
AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Education named 10 schools to the School Improvement Grant eligibility list, making them eligible to apply for three-year federal grants to fund locally developed plans aimed at improving student achievement.
The schools meet a series of detailed criteria, established by federal guidelines, and have experienced below-average proficiency and growth on state testing. They are not, however, the lowest performing schools in the state.
“We are not huge fans of the way this list is developed, but it does allow us to provide some resources for meaningful school reform to those schools on the list that are interested in taking advantage of it,” said Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen.
Under federal guidelines, the Department ranks the three-year average combined proficiency in reading and math and then identifies schools that have low proficiency and a lower-than-average growth in proficiency over the three years. Schools can end up on the list in one of two tiers:
Tier 1 is for Title I schools – which receive funding based on the size of their population of economically disadvantaged students – that have not made progress according to the standards of the No Child Left Behind Act for two or more years in a row.
Tier 2 is for high schools that are eligible for Title I funds, but whose districts use those funds in other schools.
Many Maine schools are not eligible to be in either category because their schools are not eligible for Title I funds. A school could have lower test scores than one of the 10, but have a higher rate of growth in the past three years and not make the list.
“What’s important is not how schools get on the list, or whether the list even makes sense,” Bowen said. “What’s important is the opportunity that is created by the list for some significant influx of funds to the school for professional development, after-school programming, and other work targeted at raising achievement.”
The 10 schools are:
- East End Community School, Portland
- Oak Hill High School, Wales, RSU 4
- Fort Kent Community High School, MSAD 27
- Ellsworth High School, RSU 24
- Southern Aroostook Community School, Island Falls, Southern Aroostook CSD
- Hodgdon High School, RSU 70
- Madison Area Memorial High School, RSU 59
- Nokomis Regional High School, Newport, RSU 19
- Georges Valley High School, Thomaston, RSU 13
- Lawrence High School, Fairfield, RSU 49
The schools are eligible to apply for a share of approximately $4 million available in federal funds, down from the $13 million available last year, when there was an infusion of funds under the federal Recovery Act. Six of the 10 schools named last year applied for and received funds, with approximately $3 million carried over to this year. Because of the reduced funding this year, it is likely that not all schools will receive funding. By federal law, the state must first provide funds to the Tier 1 schools that apply for them.