News Feature

The Peninsula
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, May 2, 2013
Dept. of Ed. issues grades for Peninsula schools
Surry Elementary School receives an A

by Anne Berleant

The state has released a Report Card of schools in the state, awarding every elementary and high school a grade from A-F. In Union 93, Surry Elementary School received an A; Blue Hill Consolidated School a B; and schools in Brooksville, Castine and Penobscot each received a “C.” Union 76 elementary schools in Brooklin and Sedgwick both received a C; George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill also received a C.

The state-issued letter grade assessment for each school is based on student performance, growth in achievement from the past years, and on the performance of the bottom 25 percent of students. The primary metrics for the elementary school are test scores on the New England Common Assessment Program and the alternative test Maine offers for students with cognitive disabilities, the Personalized Alternate Assessment Portfolio.

“When we took these [NECAP] tests in October, no one knew they were high stakes tests,” said Union 93 Superintendent Mark Hurvitt. “It’s kind of like grading me on one school board meeting. I’d say the same thing if all [schools] got As.”

Both Hurvitt and Union 76 Superintendent Mark Jenkins said the grades will be discussed at the May school board meetings.

In Deer Isle-Stonington, the elementary school received an F and the high school received a C.

In a press release from the Maine Department of Education, Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen said the “desire is not to make the letter grades a cause for shame, but rather an opportunity for transparency with parents and communities, and a basis for targeted supports to underperforming schools.” The press release did not specify what form “targeted supports” for low-performing schools would take.

“I think this is really poor public policy, said Hurvitt. “To me, it’s politically motivated.”

Of the 422 elementary schools scored, 235 received a C grade. There were 50 As, 55 Bs, 48 Ds, and 34 Fs.