LEWISTON — Five requests have been received from parents to have their children transferred from Montello Elementary School, where reading and math scores are below federal benchmarks, Superintendent Bill Webster said after Monday night's School Committee meeting.
Montello and Farwell schools are two of 130 in Maine where federal No Child Left Behind standards are below target. The federal law calls for schools to have 75 percent of students at grade level in reading and 70 percent of them at grade level in math. Each year that percentage increases until 2014 when 100 percent must be at grade level. Experts say that goal is not attainable.
Letters were required to be sent to parents advising them of the situation. Besides giving parents the choice of schools, both schools must come up with improvement plans.
No Farwell parents requested their children be moved to another school.
Lewiston Middle School also had to send a letter to parents, but students can't transfer since there's no other middle school.
Geiger and McMahon elementary schools are on a No Child Left Behind warning list and are on track to also have to send letters to parents next year, Terry Steinbeiser, assistant curriculum director, told the School Committee.
In Lewiston “most parents are comfortable with their school and their teachers,” Webster said.
In a report to the committee, Steinbeiser shared other test results that showed students are making progress.
With Lewiston's particular student body, which includes immigrants learning English as a second language and other students struggling with poverty, Webster said he's pleased with the results.
“If nationally 50 percent of students make typical growth, I dare say the student makeup in Lewiston is more challenging than many school districts across with country,” he said. “With that, our district growth — reading 49.9 percent, math 49.2 — would suggest that we're doing as well in Lewiston as your typical school district across the country.
“Again, that's not where we want to be,” Webster said. “We can and will do better. Nonetheless we have a good story here.”
In response to Steinbeiser listing various initiatives different schools are taking to improve No Child Left Behind scores, committee member Ronella Paradis said Lewiston schools have too many initiatives that cause too much work and is stressing students and teachers. She asked to see the various programs given to teachers streamlined; keeping those that work and junking those that don't.
Committee Chairman James Handy said the topic of too many initiatives will be explored in an upcoming workshop.