Maine releases latest ed accountability results

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Education released its annual report Thursday on the progress of schools under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The results show a majority of schools not attaining the targets set under the federal rules.

The results were expected, according to the Department – a result of the system’s reliance on a single test and ever-rising targets. Nonetheless, they point to a slow rate of progress among many Maine schools.

“Our schools are not doing worse this year than last year, but you wouldn’t know that from the way the federal AYP lists are calculated,” Bowen said. “This is why we, like most other states, have requested flexibility to do accountability differently. We expect to hear back shortly, and we think positively, from the U.S. Department of Education.”

Bowen noted that while the AYP list the state is required to publish is based on a flawed federal accountability system, Maine schools still have much to work on. The results are based on testing from 2011-12 that shows only 245 of the 584 schools met the targets for both reading and math.

“We can’t let the fact that we have a flawed measurement system obscure the fact that far too many Maine students are learning in schools where a third and often half of all students aren’t able to meet the expectations for their grade level. We all have a lot of work to do.”

As the federal law now exists, Maine schools are required each year to meet higher testing targets than the previous year in order to make adequate yearly progress. As a result, even as school performance remains the same, or even improves, fewer and fewer schools meet the increased progress requirements. Under existing federal rules, 100 percent of students in all subgroups must be proficient by the 2013-14 testing year for a school to achieve the status of making adequate yearly progress.

For the current year, the target for schools with grades 3 through 8 was 75 percent of students proficient in reading and 70 percent proficient in math. At the high school level, 78 percent of students must be proficient in reading and 66 percent in math in order to “make adequate yearly progress,” or AYP.

For 2012-13, only 204 schools out of 584, or 35 percent, are labeled as “Making AYP,” an increase from last year’s 30 percent of schools, and a result of several schools successfully upping their student performance for two years in a row. While the number of schools making AYP increased, more schools were added to the list of Continuous Improvement Priority Schools – those not making AYP for two years in a row. That number increased from 203 last year to 217 this year.

“We have instances where schools are making dramatic improvements but can’t keep up with the ever-rising federal targets,” Bowen said. “With our waiver, we’ll still set ambitious goals for schools, but realistic ones based on where they are starting.”

Under the proposed system, all schools will be expected to reduce the percentage of students not proficient in reading and math by half over six years. Rather than an emphasis on single-snapshot-in-time testing, the new accountability system will look at growth over time.

The LePage Administration is focused on an improved accountability system, which is one of the three key principles in the Governor’s ABC plan to improve education. The plan highlights accountability, best practices, and choice – the foundational elements of the Education Department’s strategic plan.

The new accountability system will: reward schools making progress; base measures of achievement on student growth, not straight scores; and include educator evaluation models that help assess teacher and administrator performance and support improved teaching through professional development and other efforts.

The full AYP results for 2012-13 can be viewed at:
www.maine.gov/education/pressreleases/ayp/index.html

For more information on Maine and NCLB Flexibility, go to:
www.maine.gov/doe/accountability

The Department also released the 2012-13 Maine High School Assessment results today. These are the basis of AYP status results at the high school level and are posted online at:
www.maine.gov/education/mhsa/school_reports.htm

The Department released the 2012-13 Maine Education Assessment science results as well at:
www.maine.gov/education/mea/edmea.htm

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