School may require SAT standards for graduation

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LIVERMORE FALLS —Directors of Regional School Unit 36 this week mulled the idea of tying SAT scores to high school graduation.

Director Diane Gould of Livermore suggested Thursday that Livermore Falls High School seniors who don’t meet the SAT scoring standards should not be allowed to graduate.

The discussion came as directors reviewed a $1.4 million federal grant application to improve student achievement at the high school. The grant requires significant improvement on SAT scores within three years. The school is one of 10 in Maine deemed persistently low-performing on the national standardized test. It is administered in March to juniors to assess their skills in math, reading and writing. Livermore Falls High School juniors took their SAT in May.

The idea of tying test scores to diplomas is not far-fetched, Vice Chairman Mac Haynes of Livermore Falls said. Other states, including Massachusetts, are doing it.

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Gould said that if students don’t do well on the tests, teachers are going to be held accountable and administrators are going to be held accountable for teachers. But, she asked, “Are the kids going to be held accountable?”

High school Guidance Director Sue Spalding said Principal Shawn Lambert already has tied this year’s test scores of juniors to their eligibility for privileges and work release their senior year.

In a March 10 letter, Lambert told parents and guardians to “remember that the scores your son or daughter earns on this test become part of his or her permanent record and will be available to any college to which he or she applies. You should know that since the school is held accountable for the scores, your son or daughter will be held accountable, too. Students who do not meet the standards in reading and mathematics, the two areas monitored by the state, will not qualify for senior privileges or work release in their fourth year so that they may spend more time on their academics.”

He sent a follow-up letter on March 31 that repeated the information, and said students who do not meet or only partially meet the standards in math and reading could take a local assessment again to earn privileges.

Lambert, who was not available for comment Friday, wrote in the second letter that following the exam there would be “exciting” door prizes, including four tickets to the Red Sox-Yankees game on May 7. The tickets were donated by a school board member.

High school special education teacher Jenna Cote said that some of her students read at a lower level because of health issues and may not be able to do any better on the test. She spoke to Lambert about that.

As long as they show some growth, they will qualify for privileges, Cote said.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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