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Education Home > School Achievement and Progress > School Progress Introduction

Methodology

How the Department of Education determines the School Improvement Grant eligibility list and the School Achievement and Progress list on which it is based.


The Maine Department of Education determines which schools are eligible for School Improvement Grants based on a School Achievement and Progress list showing the last three years of testing data and the amount of progress made by the more than 500 Maine public schools where students participate in standardized exams.

The School Achievement and Progress list includes data for 551 public schools that include at least one grade whose students participate in standardized testing. Students between grades 3 and 8 and in grade 11 take those exams.

The list does not include 70 schools that are K-2 schools, new schools with fewer than three years of testing data or recently closed schools. The list also does not include a few schools with testing populations small enough that releasing their results would violate federal privacy laws.

The School Achievement and Progress list is not a ranking of schools and is not intended to be used to make comparisons between schools. It contains data based on one measure only: standardized tests.

Achievement Data

The School Achievement and Progress List includes one number each to represent a school's reading and math proficiency over the past three school years (2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10) and another number that represents average achievement over the course of those three years.

For each year, the Department of Education has calculated the percentage of students proficient in math and reading – meeting or exceeding the standards – in each grade level tested. This includes students who take the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP), the Maine Educational Assessment (MEA), the Maine High School Assessment (MHSA) and the Personalized Alternate Assessment Portfolio (PAAP).

The resulting percentage is an average of reading and math proficiency rates.

In a K-5 school, for example, the Department of Education would look at all students in grades 3, 4 and 5 and determine the percentage of them meeting or exceeding standards in reading. The Department would then repeat this process for math. The achievement number is the average of these two numbers.

The Department then calculates the three-year average of those numbers.

Progress Data

To calculate progress, the Department of Education simply subtracts the 2007-08 achievement percentage from the 2009-10 achievement percentage.

For example, for a school with the following results would be shown as having progress of 3 percentage points overall:

2007-08 30% proficient
2008-09 29% proficient
2009-10 33% proficient

The focus of this effort is to look at progress first and proficiency second, though both are important factors.

The Department of Education uses three years of data so one-year anomalies, especially at smaller schools, do not skew the results. In addition, three years of data makes it possible to focus on growth, not simply proficiency.

The list is not ranked, and the Department strongly discourages ranking for a number of reasons:

  • The percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards and growth in that percentage is one measure; it does not tell the whole story of a school's performance.
  • The achievement number is not as important as progress. A school that has low performance but is making significant progress may be more prepared to help students succeed than a school that is not making progress.
  • Most important is what schools and communities do with the information. A school that has less than 100 percent of its students meeting the standards should be working to improve student achievement. Whether a school has 20 percent or 80 percent of students meeting standards, the important question is: "What is the school doing to improve?"

View the Student Achievement and Progress List