Last Thursday’s meeting on the high school’s 10 worst schools designation was both encouraging and baffling. It was encouraging because Principal Todd West has clearly made a difference and enjoys broad support among parents, students and school staff. West and Superintendent Bob Webster maintain that the plan in place to improve student performance will turn things around. They further claim that the SAT test that landed our school at the bottom of the heap is not a good measure of student performance.
What was baffling was that both West and Webster seem unable to find any way of testing our students to insure that our educational program is in fact working. West even went so far as to say there is no testing system in existence that could be used to measure high school student performance in reading and math, a claim that surprised a number of people in the audience.
Unfortunately, 10 years of standardized test data at Maine’s department of education reveals that DI-S High School students consistently score below average in math and reading. We also spend more money on our schools than just about every other school system in the state—$16,322 per student in 2008-09, the last year for which data was available. The statewide average spending per student was $11,037.
So here we are with a Cadillac educational system ranked at the bottom of the heap in reading and math achievement, run by an administration that promises to fix all that, but can’t figure out a way to measure the results. Our students deserve better.
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