OXFORD — The SAD 17 Board of Directors was told this week that the Maine Educational Assessment preliminary test scores show improvements in both reading and math scores.

“I think we have something to celebrate,” said Kathy Elkins, director of curriculum on Friday.

Although school officials have to wait several weeks to receive the final test scores, early indications show that SAD 17 elementary and middle school scores are going up.

According to statistics presented to the board Monday, preliminary scores show that in grades three through eight reading passing scores have increased from 56 percent in 2007 to 61 percent in 2008 and 67 percent this year. In math, the passing scores have increased from 45 percent in 2007 to 46 percent in 2008 to 53 percent in 2009. The MEA tests this year were administered in March.

“That’s a nice trend,” Elkins told the board. “They’re going up.”

Elkins said they are now waiting for the full report, which will include the AYP and SAT scores and is due out in early August. AYP, or annual yearly performance, is the number used to determine whether the district meets the mandates of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The final test results will be presented to the board at its Aug. 17 meeting.

School officials have been struggling to bring up math scores. Last year, Elkins said the issues in the math scores, districtwide, could be attributed in part to a perception that the old elementary-level math program does not explicitly teach computation and that a new program might be needed.

Elkins said a number of revisions this year have been added, particularly to the math program, which now includes an emphasis on computation. SAD 17 has also hired math interventionist Kyle Morey at the middle school and continued the services of math coach David Stearns.

The new kindergarten through grade five math program that was implemented makes it easier for teachers to use and provides a reference book for parents to work with their children, said Elkins. Additionally, she said, many teachers have been spending time after school in professional development activities geared at improving their teaching skills in math.

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