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Superintendent's Response to Maine's A-F Grading System May 2013

posted May 8, 2013, 12:06 PM by Jason Tozer   [ updated May 29, 2013, 11:11 AM by Marilyn Stumpff ]

Dear Parents/Guardians and Community Members:


As your Superintendent, I believe it is important for the parents/guardians and community members of RSU #20 to hear from me on the topic of the A-F Grading System. Our school system received its new letter grades from the Maine Department of Education on Monday, April 29, 2013 as part of the new Maine School Performance Grading System


This grading system reflects several factors, including math and reading proficiency of all students, growth factors that compare test results from multiple years, as well as growth in the 25 percent of the lowest performing students (for elementary schools) and graduation rates (for high schools).


The schools within RSU #20 received A’s through F’s.  While our schools scored relatively well, I do not believe these grades are an accurate reflection of the academic achievement that has taken place within RSU #20.  If you wish to access the report cards for each of our schools, please click on the following website www.maine.gov/doe/databasewarehouse.


Our letter grades are important for several reasons.  Although they should be seen in complete context and are only one measure of our performance, they do show areas in which we are doing well, and highlight areas we need to improve,  One grade does not tell the whole story.  I hope the school grades will add to our community discussion on how to constantly improve education, regardless of where we fall on the grading scale.


In RSU #20, all schools are working hard to improve student performance and create challenging, rigorous, and supportive learning environments for all students.  We have innovative programs in schools across the region and our administrators and teaching staff care greatly about the quality of education students receive.


I believe in accountability, I believe in assessment, I believe that schools should constantly seek opportunities for improvement at all levels.  I am opposed to a system that is inaccurate, political, and harmful to the students of Maine.  There are many reasons that students do not achieve or have slower gains: hunger, sickness, homelessness, family violence, etc.  At-risk students are not those performing at grade level but those who are suffering.  We need to reward schools that are meeting the needs of each child instead of assigning them a grade.  Assessments used to determine a school’s grade are too limited.  When we do that, it doesn’t give the full picture of what is taking place in the classroom.  Art, music, the right part of the brain, and creativity skills are not areas that are really going to be measured.


And yet now, the Commissioner of Education and Governor propose ratcheting up accountability - this time, by “grading schools in Maine.”


It’s a mistake.  Raw numbers don’t begin to capture what happens in the classroom or school.  When we reward and punish schools based on such artificial measures, there is too often an unintended consequence for kids.


Is it more important to set up a punitive system of grading schools or to get our students engaged in their own learning and take ownership of their education?  The state must fully fund basic education before starting any new programs.  The proposed new funding from the State to assist schools in improving their grades will not be a motivator for change.


I hope you will view these grades as a way to become more involved in the school and regional school unit.  You can assist by becoming involved.  To determine how you can use the report card information to support our schools, go to www.maine.gove/doe/schoolreportcards


Help us raise the grade together by taking a community approach of educating children.  Together we can strive for excellence in all areas of education.  Together we can raise these grades.


I am honored to be the Superintendent of RSU #20 Public Schools,. and I am grateful for the support of a community that values educating its children.


Respectfully,



Brian Carpenter

Superintendent of Schools

RSU #20

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