Governor, Education Commissioner release report cards for Maine schools

On an A-F grade scale, 81 percent of elementary schools and 69 percent of high schools earned an A, B or C. The Department of Education has pledged increased support for those that didn’t make the grade.

AUGUSTA – With the release today of report cards for each of the state’s schools, the Department of Education has provided Mainers with a better understanding of where their schools stand, and how they can improve.

Speaking today at the Maine State Library, Governor Paul R. LePage and Education Commissioner Stephen L. Bowen unveiled new benchmarking that uses existing data and a familiar A-F scale to grade each school.

With the launch of the Maine School Performance Grading System, the state joins 13 others and New York City in empowering parents and community members with easy-to-understand information about their local school.

The Governor and Commissioner said the A-F grading system reflects a commitment to transparency, parent engagement and putting the state’s students first.

“Maine’s economic future depends on how well our schools prepare our students for success in college, careers and civic life,” said Governor LePage, who has made education reform the focus of his Administration. “These report cards show the majority of Maine’s schools are average, but I believe Maine’s students deserve an above-average education. With this accessible accountability system, students, parents and educators can work together to raise their grades and create better outcomes for Maine kids.”

Based on data already collected by the Department, the majority of both Maine’s elementary and high schools are average or above; 81 percent of the 422 elementary schools graded and 69 percent of the 124 high schools earned an A, B or C.

Meanwhile, 11 percent of elementary schools and 23 percent of high schools received a D and 8 percent of both elementary and high schools received an F.

The overall state grade was a C at both the elementary and high school levels.

Commissioner Bowen stressed the Department of Education is a resource to all schools no matter their grade and will be increasing its support to struggling schools while doing more to promote promising practices already in place. Additionally, the LePage Administration’s budget proposal includes $3 million to be allocated for improvement initiatives.

State education officials have been thoughtfully developing the grading system – which the Governor announced in his 2013 State of the State Address – since late 2012.

In an effort to ensure the report cards are clear and concise yet comprehensive enough to be constructive, the grades are based on proficiency and progress.

At the elementary school level, math and reading proficiency as measured by standardized assessments and progress are weighted equally in determining a school’s grade. Progress includes both the growth of all students and the gains made specifically by the bottom 25 percent of students.

At the high school level, math and reading proficiency and progress each account for 40 percent of a school’s grade, and four-year and five-year graduation rates account for the remaining 20 percent.

“The release of the report cards today is an opportunity for a constructive conversation on school performance in which we are all speaking the same language,” said Education Commissioner Bowen. “Just as parents lean in when their child receives an F and encourage the good work to continue when they earn an A, we hope they do the same when it comes to responding to the grade their school receives.

“We understand a letter grade does not tell the whole story of a student, nor does it tell the whole story of a school,” Bowen added. “Rather, this is a good-faith effort to condense the reams of data the Department already collects into an accessible snapshot of where our schools are today, showing areas where we are doing well and those where we need to improve. Now that we have this benchmark, the Department looks forward to helping educators expand existing examples of excellence to make Maine’s schools better for all students.”

In addition to the report cards, Bowen also announced the public availability of a new comprehensive website for those who wish to dig deeper beyond the letter grades. That resource, which the Department created in 2012, contains detailed multi-year information about all Maine schools and allows users to look at individual schools and districts or compare schools across the state.

The next round of report cards for Maine high schools will be released this fall using data from the May Maine High School Assessment for third-year students. Elementary school report cards will be sent out in the spring of 2014.

For more information about the Maine School Performance Grading System, visit www.maine.gov/doe/schoolreportcards.

One response to “Governor, Education Commissioner release report cards for Maine schools

  1. Paul Theriault

    I am not opposed to school grades. I do have a problem with the system. The irony is that you say you are measuring achievement but the SAT measures aptitude. I understand that is the only measure you have but you should be open with the public about it.

    The added irony is that you are embracing career and technical education (which I think is great and long overdue) and still using SAT as a measurement for all students. Is that the proper tool to measure success for those students who want to go into those fields?

    And please re-think students leaving school to get a GED because the standard high school experience has not worked for them. We had 4 students leave school last year to get GEDs and they are all now in college; but our graduation rating is in the toilet. If they can pass a GED test, shouldn’t the school get some recognition because of helping to prepare them for that success. (It is the same argument that you use for charter schools because “regular” schools do not work for all students.)

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