Math and reading proficiency rates rise, work continues

Last week, we released the statewide results from the 2012-13 Maine High School Assessment (MHSA).

The good news? Proficiency in math and reading is on the rise again in our high schools, suggesting students are better prepared for success in college and their careers.

Most notable was the nearly 2 percent increase in the number of tested students who achieved proficiency or above in critical reading, up from 47.2 percent in 2011-12 to 48.9 percent in 2012-13, with 8.6 percent of those students exceeding proficiency standards. The percentage of students who tested proficient or above in math also showed a positive uptick, from 47.2 percent in 2011-12 to 48.1 percent in 2012-13, with a record high 4.7 percent of those students exceeding proficiency expectations.

It is encouraging to see performance gains in these foundational areas that are used for State and federal accountability and the new State school grading system and that we know are so critical to ensuring student success beyond high school. The entire team at Maine DOE extends our congratulations to those who participated as third-year high school students last May and their schools for these exciting achievement gains.

That said, we still have significant work to do to ensure all students are proficient in math and reading, as well as writing and science, where Maine continued a concerning decline, with drops in writing proficiency from 46.8 percent in 2011-12 to 43.7 percent in 2012-13 and in science from 44.8 percent in 2011-12 to 41.3 percent in 2012-13.

High schools have had their 2013 MHSA results in hand since September, and that data is also now available on the Maine DOE’s public data warehouse at We recommend districts dig into that data to inform opportunities for growth and that they share their improvement strategies and success stories with their communities. As part of our commitment to increasing transparency, accountability and parent engagement, we also encourage parents to become familiar with their local school’s student performance across all content areas and be asking questions of their teachers, administrators and schools boards about efforts underway to support students and improve their outcomes.

When parents and the public are informed and involved in schools, our kids and ultimately our communities are the beneficiaries.

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