Lewiston's list of 'in need' schools grows

LEWISTON — The parents of all 349 students at Farwell Elementary School will be mailed letters next week, asking them if they wish to send their children to a city school where national targets are being met for reading and math.

Farwell is one of 130 Maine schools — and the third in Lewiston this year —  where federal No Child Left Behind rules have begun to impose penalties.

Besides giving parents the choice of schools, Farwell must come up with a formal school improvement plan for turning around the situation.

In testing last fall, students at the school missed targets in both reading and math.

But they weren't alone.

Montello Elementary, which has 697 students, and Lewiston Middle School, with 707 students, were already on the "continuous improvement priority schools" list, said George Veilleux, Lewiston's director of special education. Both schools have been undergoing federally mandated supplemental education services after school. 

In Auburn, three elementary schools — Park Avenue, Sherwood Heights and Washburn — were added to the list for failures to reach the math target. Letters to about 1,000 homes were sent last Friday.

In Lewiston, poor test scores at Longley Elementary led to its listing as a failing school. Last fall, more than half of its personnel was reassigned to capitalize on a pool of federal money. The actions made it immune from federal penalties.

Since No Child Left Behind was signed into law nine years ago, schools have been asked to either meet increasingly higher benchmarks or to show improvement in their lowest test scores.

It watches math and reading achievement scores and has increased the proficiency benchmark by 10 percentage points each year for the past several years.

The current target calls for 75 percent proficiency in reading and 70 percent in math. In 2014, the law aims for 100 percent proficiency.

"We know it's coming," said Rachelle Tome, who directs federal programs for the Maine Department of Education. She hopes the law will change, perhaps with new standards and tests or other waivers to ease a growing problem, she said.

Her office sends help to each school that shows up on the list. The helpers consist of about 12 retired teachers and superintendents who can give technical support to schools and guide personnel through the creation of school-improvement plans.

Last year, the "continuous improvement priority schools" list included 68 schools in Maine. With nearly twice as many this year, money for the service will be stretched, Tome said.

"The funds are finite," she said. "We don't have an endless supply." 

As of Wednesday, five Auburn parents had opted to send children to other schools. When parents at Montello were given the option last year, about 12 students were moved, Veilleux said.

The relatively small number was heartening, he said.

"We found that our families have faith in their schools," Veilleux said.

Tome said she too has found that people often complain about schools in general, but they change their rhetoric when talking about the school attended by their own children.

"People feel different about their neighborhood school," she said.

dhartill@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Peter Blake's picture

Special Education Funds

are reimbursed by the Federal government as I recall, but the amount is based on the previous years local budget expenditures and not on the present year.

As for Somali students in special education classes, I believe that this is wrong. Although there must be a Federal Law that says we can not discriminate against them by putting them all in one or two classes and teaching the group.

Being from another country and not knowing the language in this country does not, in my opinion, qualify anyone for special education, however, it should qualify them for language support or ESL which translates as English as a Second Language. I believe in EFL or English as a First Language which all of our forefathers had to learn the hard way. Just keep in mind that all newcomers to our country should speak English first and whatever else second. However, being a realist I know that this will not happen until the second or even third generation of Somalis or any other group that has immigrated to our shores.

Peter Blake's picture

Teaching

is a profession where the teacher need to set high standards, but the state and federal government should stay out of the process. I agree that students need to be challenged and that giving word lists as well as math problems to do at home without help is very important.

These procedures are reminiscent of the procedure that were used in classrooms in the 70's. All the changes don't matter if there are not results that can be verified. Standardized testing is a waste of money for the most part. Keeping a child alert and challenged is what counts.

When asked if they wanted their child to go to another school that has higher reading and math standards, does either city provide transportation for these children? Certainly we could blame the government and state for their standards, but look at what a mess they are in when they try to set a debt ceiling.

Texas is correct and Maine is not. Let us follow the curriculum in Texas and see how much of a change that makes in scoring. Yes, I know the test should be in English or Somali because of the various languages. Texas must have a similar issue with Spanish speaking students from Mexico or those who just speak Spanish only at home.

We could take Farwell School and move the principal and half the staff again as was done in Lewiston at Longley School, but this can only be done so many times then what?

Perhaps we should all take notice of what "Cathy" says and demand that our schools be less liberal and more conservative in the curriculum especially ignoring the demands of liberal parents and forcing expectations on both students and parents. Setting HIGH standards is a good thing for everyone.

Stop cutting special education

After my University was blacklisted for demanding student information to cut special education and percentages in the future I can understand why scores are so low. We need to stop cutting funding in ESL, stop cutting funding with special education, and stop cutting funding for the arts. Really the administrations may laugh at dismal testing scores but eliminating special education to force a drop out rate is also a frame on the board of life. So, they cut corners, build a house leaning to the right, and watch all of the strict conservatism fail them and students in the future.

Kyla Greenwood's picture

ESL

Has anyone taken into consideration that Lewiston/Auburn schools have a large population where English is not their first language? If the No Child Left Behind act is going to work, it needs to be properly funded. Teachers are forced to spend classroom time preparing students for these standardized tests instead of teaching the material in a way that works best for the students.

schools

My daughter started her schooling in Texas. By the time she was in pre-k she was already reading and doing math. By the time she was in kindergarten she was reading at a 3rd grade level. The school in Texas would giver her reading, math and spelling tests every week. she had a list of words she had to study and spell orally without looking at the paper. She also had math problems she had to do and turn it in the next day without any help from me. needless to say she brought home 100"s every week on every test. Now she is entering third grade, but spent the last part of the year in kindergarten at Monmouth schools. They never gave her homework, her spelling started to slip because they didn't challenger her or correct her when she spelled something wrong. In math the make her do something called number strings which basically adds three steps to simple addition and subtraction making in even more difficult to figure out. I even didn't know how to do it. So basically if you want your child to do good, you have to supplement that with at home learning. You can't trust the school system to do it on their own.
I even did a comparison of Maine schools with Texas; Texas came in at a third grade class with 90% reading and a 90% math levels. Maine came in at a 59% reading and 60% math. So something is really wrong here.
Of course not all schools are bad here in maine but things need to change.

Karla Good's picture

Kathy, since states set their

Kathy, since states set their own standards, I'm curious about what data you used to compare proficiency between Maine and Texas.

schools

here is my data. Obviously something is wrong here. If Texas can get averages like this, with many Spanish speaking students, then why can't we get the same? Our kids are smart enough.

Henry L Cottrell School
Public | PK-4 | 215 students |
• Compare this school
• Add to My School List
• Rate & review
• Share
PHONE: (207) 933-4426
Nearby homes for sale
169 Academy St
Monmouth, ME 04259
Kennebec County | Map
Monmouth School Department
Notice an inaccuracy? Let us know!
• Overview
• Reviews
• Test Scores & Stats
• Map
• Test Scores
• |GreatSchools Ratings
• |Teachers & Students

LEARN ABOUT THIS SCHOOL'S:
• NECAP Results

NECAP Results

Scale: % meeting or exceeding standards
Grade 3
Reading
77% (2010)
The state average for Reading was 73% in 2010.

Math
55% (2010)
The state average for Math was 62% in 2010.

Scale: % meeting or exceeding standards
Grade 3
Reading
84% (2011)
94% (2010)
81% (2009)
100% (2008)
94% (2007)
95% (2006)
The state average for Reading was 89% in 2011.

Math
72% (2011)
53% (2010)
74% (2009)
100% (2008)
94% (2007)
82% (2006)
The state average for Math was 87% in 2011.

Source: TX Education Agency, 2010-2011
Grade 4
Reading
70% (2011)
87% (2010)
89% (2009)
71% (2008)
53% (2007)
67% (2006)
The state average for Reading was 85% in 2011.

Writing
85% (2011)
86% (2010)
100% (2009)
94% (2008)
59% (2007)
85% (2006)
The state average for Writing was 90% in 2011.

Math
70% (2011)
80% (2010)
89% (2009)
82% (2008)
47% (2007)
62% (2006)
The state average for Math was 88% in 2011.

Karla Good's picture

I see your point, but do you

I see your point, but do you know if the standards are the same as Maine's? I've been trying to hunt that info down. You have to know what you're comparing. States set their own standards and are all over the place with that. That's been a problem with NCLB since its conception. Have you looked at the NAEP (national report card)?

schools

here is my data. Obviously something is wrong here. If Texas can get averages like this, with many Spanish speaking students, then why can't we get the same? Our kids are smart enough.

Henry L Cottrell School
Public | PK-4 | 215 students |
• Compare this school
• Add to My School List
• Rate & review
• Share
PHONE: (207) 933-4426
Nearby homes for sale
169 Academy St
Monmouth, ME 04259
Kennebec County | Map
Monmouth School Department
Notice an inaccuracy? Let us know!
• Overview
• Reviews
• Test Scores & Stats
• Map
• Test Scores
• |GreatSchools Ratings
• |Teachers & Students

LEARN ABOUT THIS SCHOOL'S:
• NECAP Results

NECAP Results

Scale: % meeting or exceeding standards
Grade 3
Reading
77% (2010)
The state average for Reading was 73% in 2010.

Math
55% (2010)
The state average for Math was 62% in 2010.

This was the averages for Monmouth.

Lometa Texas School stats:

Scale: % meeting or exceeding standards
Grade 3
Reading
84% (2011)
94% (2010)
81% (2009)
100% (2008)
94% (2007)
95% (2006)
The state average for Reading was 89% in 2011.

Math
72% (2011)
53% (2010)
74% (2009)
100% (2008)
94% (2007)
82% (2006)
The state average for Math was 87% in 2011.

Source: TX Education Agency, 2010-2011
Grade 4
Reading
70% (2011)
87% (2010)
89% (2009)
71% (2008)
53% (2007)
67% (2006)
The state average for Reading was 85% in 2011.

Writing
85% (2011)
86% (2010)
100% (2009)
94% (2008)
59% (2007)
85% (2006)
The state average for Writing was 90% in 2011.

Math
70% (2011)
80% (2010)
89% (2009)
82% (2008)
47% (2007)
62% (2006)
The state average for Math was 88% in 2011.

Karla Good's picture

*Cathy

*Cathy

schools

Sorry some of my keys on my keyboard don't work right so some of my words are spelled wrong.

Doreen Sheive's picture

Excuses

So long as school administrators make excuses for the poor testing results, our children will continue to not be properly educated. My son was educated in the Waterville school system where they actually bragged about the dismal test results. The school board never questioned the percentage of children not being able to meet the standards. I, personally, think that public school administrators should not be people who come up through the education system -- from coach to principal to superintendent. I think it would be better if they were business oriented people. There are good teachers and bad teachers, but all teachers suffer when the principal and superintendent are more concerned about themselves than the teachers and students.

Jim Cyr's picture

"in need"

of more money, especially after Farwell got over 30 million for a new school! "Faith in their schools", how's that working out for you?

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