AUGUSTA — Forty-four percent of Maine's public schools have succeeded in meeting No Child Left Behind standards for yearly improvement, according to a statement released by the Maine Department of Education.
The statement is based on a department report, published Oct. 26, which offers an assessment of "adequate yearly progress" for Maine's public schools.
Maine's AYP is based on the results of standardized tests, daily attendance and graduation rates, and takes into account data from the current and previous school years, according to a DOE Fact Sheet published in 2003.
In yearly assessments, the DOE categorizes schools as "making AYP," meaning the students are meeting annual targets in both math and reading; as "monitor" status, meaning they were making AYP in the 2009-10 assessment, but did not meet targets in at least one subject in the 2010-11 testing; as “Continuous Improvement Priority Schools” or "CIPS" status, meaning they have failed to meet targets for at least two years in a row; or “CIPS on hold” status, meaning they were considered CIPS last year and met all of their targets this year, so they will be considered "making AYP" if they meet their targets next year.
For 2010-11, the Maine DOE assessed data from 621 public schools. It identified 276 schools (44 percent) that were "making AYP," according to its report. That was down from 64 percent last year, according to last year's AYP report.
Also this year, the department found that 181 schools (29 percent) were on "monitor status;" 137 schools (22 percent) were considered to be on "CIPS" status; and 25 schools (4 percent) were considered "CIPS on hold."
Two schools did not receive an AYP status. For one, there was no testing data. The other, Longley Elementary School in Lewiston, received a School Improvement Grant, meaning it has been given a fresh slate under federal law, according to the report.
Auburn and Lewiston school departments showed mixed results in this year's assessment. Edward Little and Lewiston high schools, both labeled "CIPS" schools for more than six years consecutively, remained on that list, according to the report.
Auburn Middle School was also considered a CIPS school, for the second year in a row, while Lewiston Middle School moved to the "CIPS on hold" status after two years on the CIPS list. Of Lewiston's six public elementary schools, two were considered "making AYP," two were considered "monitor" schools, one school was considered "CIPS" and one lacked a status. All six of Auburn's elementary schools were considered "monitor" schools, according to the report.
"The trend in Maine and nationally, as shown by National Assessment of Educational Progress scores, has been flat scores in reading and math for five years, but there are examples of success,” Maine Education Commissioner Angela Faherty said in the release.
“We are looking at those and sharing them with schools," she said. "We are hopeful that more schools will join us in bringing these innovative programs to students."
A school's AYP is based on year-to-year improvement, meaning that a school's testing targets will be higher each consecutive year. In part, the DOE has said, that explains the drop in schools "making AYP" this year.
"While schools may have demonstrated significant growth over the past nine years of this law, continuous improvements are required," according to the statement. "As a result, while test scores and school performance remained level or increased incrementally each of the past three years, the number of schools 'making adequate yearly progress,' according to the federal requirements, has dropped."
Moreover, according to the statement, the academic targets for the 2009-10 testing (which in part determine the 2010-11 assessment) increased significantly from previous years.
The targets are the percentage of students that must be proficient in reading and math, as determined by standardized test results. The targets must be met by the student population as a whole and also in eight subgroups: students with disabilities, the economically disadvantaged, those with limited English proficiency, and five ethnic groups.
Last year, the percentage of students considered proficient in math or reading for a school to be labeled "making AYP" increased by between 8 and 11 percent, depending on subject and grade level, according to the report.
For example, 71 percent of 11th-graders this year had to be proficient in reading for a high school to be "making AYP." That's a 7 percent jump over the last year.
And those proficiency requirements will keep going up until the 2013-14 school year, when 100 percent of students in all subgroups must be proficient for a school to achieve the status of making adequate yearly progress, according to the statement.