News Feature

The Island

A better education for our children

Click here to see the full Deer Isle-Stonington High School—Low-Performing School Archive.

We have some great teachers in our school. We know because our kids tell us so. We’ve been involved in several school functions, and Dennis has been a coach for the high school, and we have seen the great work our children are capable of. This is probably why we were so upset to hear we’ve been recognized as a “top low-achieving school.”

We understand this is because our school’s SAT scores for the past three years have been consistently low. We’ve read several newspaper articles and attended the meeting at the high school to discuss our children’s educational options and see how we intend to improve the education our students are receiving. Through the articles and at the meeting it was stated the SATs are not an accurate assessment of our students’ knowledge. It was stated more than once that several of our students would be going into fishing and other jobs in the community so they don’t try as hard as they should on the test. Also the test is given on Saturday and they feel this is also a problem. Yes, some of our students go into fishing or other work and others go on to college. A school population of kids with different goals is not unique to our school. That can’t explain the problems. As the meeting went on, it seems Mr. West and Mr. Webster acknowledged that there were some deeper issues.

The following data was gleaned from information provided by the high school for the annual graduation special sections in Island Ad-Vantages. The information is from Ad-Vantages files. These show the size of the graduating class each year and the number of graduating students going into fishing, other work and those who were undecided.

It does seem we have a deeper problem. We’ll start by saying we’re neither for nor against firing Principal West. We’re for our children getting a better education. Principal West and Superintendent Webster stated they have plans in place to better our students, which we think is great. We asked how they intended to test the progress and we never got an answer.

Yes, we want to know how our school system will respond to this situation we find ourselves in now. Beyond applying for grants and hirings and firings, the school needs to show us what they’re going to start doing today and how they’re going to show us the improvement by June 2010. Not with the freshman class or the sophomore class but with all classes starting today. Doesn’t that mean another public meeting before the next school board meeting?

A few observations and suggestions: in several conversations with parents and students it’s obvious the 80-minute class is too long. The students and teachers can’t stay focused for that long and that’s causing too much wandering around. I would also like to see the wireless Internet turned off. Students need to be paying attention to the teachers and not what their friends are doing in the next class over or at home, sick. There are computers in the computer room and in the library. I don’t see why an iPod is necessary. I realize this idea won’t make me popular with the students at the school. Let’s get back to the basics: learning in class.

It’s time for all our kids to learn up to their potential and do well on any test, MEAs, SATs or any tests put in front of them. Get them whatever help they need to be truly prepared for the tests.

Having volunteered for the School Improvement Committee at the community meeting on March 23, we’d now like to call a meeting of that committee for Monday, April 5, at 6 p.m. at the high school library.

Year # Students Fishing Work Undecided graduating
2003 51 4 2 3 2004 47 6 0 6 2005 25 4 1 1 2006 39 1 4 1 2007 41 1 9 2 2008 41 2 2 7 2009 25 3 2 2 Totals 269 21 20 22 The remaining 206 students planned on furthering their education.

Carmen Rollins

Dennis Rollins

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