News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, June 12, 2014
Surry recognized as top-25 school in student proficiency, improvement
Certificates of achievement follow ‘A’ report card

by Anne Berleant

“You have to take pride,” said Surry Elementary School principal Cathy Lewis, after the K-8 school received an “A” on its state-issued report card for the second year in a row, while noting that the top grade would be better “if more substantive.”

“The grades are ill-formed and counter-productive for most schools in Maine,” she continued. “If an F is not all [that] represents [a school], neither is an A….This is just a snapshot.”

Lewis spoke at the June 3 school board meeting, where she passed around a letter and certificate sent by the Maine Department of Education congratulating the school on it’s A grade.

She also found something else to beam about: the fact that the elementary school was named one of the top 25 schools for the growth of all students and for those who struggle the most. The state also issued certificates for each of these accomplishments.

“These…are the ones you want to hang your hat on,” she said.

In overall proficiency, 76.7 percent of students scored proficient or above in math and 80 percent in reading, based on New England Common Assessment Program test results.

In the bottom 25 percent, which represents the students who struggle the most, 55.6 percent improved in math and 93.6 percent in English.

“It’s really huge when the kids who are having the hardest time improve,” Lewis said. “It’s not the grade, it’s the improvement.”

“You’re doing something right,” said board member Don Driscoll. “This is the second year this school has been recognized…It’s the principal, the kids, the teachers, the superintendent—it’s the team and we’re here to support you.”

Surry was one of 50 schools in Maine that received an A based on NECAP results. The NECAPs test in six areas: proficiency in math and English, growth in individual students in math and English, and growth in the 25 percent of students who struggled the most in the previous year. Third through eighth graders took the tests in October.

Surry received 313.8 points out of a possible 400, a drop of 15 points from last year’s results.

Five of the six categories tested decreased while the score for reading growth in the bottom 25 percent of students increased from 81 to 93.6. The most substantial decrease was in the math score of that same group, 71 to 55.6.

This was the last school year for NECAPs; next year, Maine will use the  Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium assessment, which is aligned with the national Common Core standards adopted in 2012.

In other business, school board members unanimously approved the $14,313 bid by King Electric for school lighting replacement, of which an estimated $9,114 qualifies for a rebate. Also approved was the fuel oil and propane bid for 2014-15 from No Frills Oil Company for 6,000 gallons of fuel oil for the school, 1,800 for town and 850 gallons of propane for the school. The total cost is $26,523.