In an effort to expand the snapshot of a school the report card provides, the Department will add information about student poverty, teacher tenure and education levels, and funding
AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Education has begun creating the 2014 school report cards that will be published in May.
For the second straight year, the Department will use existing school performance and progress data to provide the public a snapshot of how the state’s 600 schools are doing.
Earlier today, superintendents and principals received a reminder from the Department to review the math and reading proficiency and growth data as well as graduation and assessment participation rates that will be used to calculate their report card. For months, schools have had all of the data that will be used and have already certified it as being accurate. But in an effort to ensure data quality and grading system transparency, the Department is providing a final review and appeal period this year.
The Department developed the Maine School Performance Grading System in 2013 to bring more transparency and accountability to school performance across the state.
The report cards provide the public with Maine’s first true statewide accountability system. Previous systems required by the State and U.S. Department of Education relied on bureaucratic terminology to characterize school performance and only applied to Title I schools.
The roll-out of the report cards last May sparked a statewide conversation on school quality and drove thousands of Mainers to the Department’s website to learn more about their local school’s performance and how it compared to others across the state. At the time, the Maine DOE also unveiled a public data portal with years of straightforward information about all Maine schools on their students, faculty, finances and more.
“In a state with local control, it’s important that all local stakeholders have a common understanding of the challenges and opportunities within their districts,” said Education Commissioner Jim Rier. “When parents and the public are informed and involved in schools, our kids benefit.”
Since the first report cards were published, the Maine DOE has delivered professional development sessions to thousands of educators, had its improvement consultants working in the state’s most challenged schools and provided new and expanded resources to support schools including webinars, tools and a Center for Best Practice.
The Department has also been working to expand the snapshot of a school the report cards provide the public. While the formula for calculating the grades is unchanged to allow for comparison from 2013 to 2014, information has been added.
Earlier this year, the Maine Education Policy Research Institute released a report requested by the legislature that found in Maine, a school’s percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch and teacher experience and education levels were the school variables that most impacted student achievement
As a result, that information will be included at the school, district and state level on the report cards. Funding information, average daily attendance as an indicator of student engagement and school and district contact information will also be added.
“All of us want the best schools for our students, and though we might not all like what the grading system reveals, we must commit to improve upon its findings rather than ignore or excuse them,” said Commissioner Rier. “I believe the information we will be adding to this year’s report cards makes them an even more valuable tool to help the public and education leaders easily identify school strengths and weaknesses and make comparisons that will drive the improvements Maine kids deserve.”
For more information about the Maine School Performance Grading System, visit www.maine.gov/doe/schoolreportcards/. To link to the Maine Department of Education’s state Data Warehouse, visit http://www.maine.gov/doe/dataresources/.