LIVERMORE FALLS — Sixth-graders as a whole topped the state’s education assessment test averages in math and reading while seventh- and eighth-graders came close.

In the coming school year, students in grades three through eight will be assessed on what they learned the previous year through the New England Common Assessment Program rather than the Maine Education Assessments, middle school Principal Ted Finn said Thursday. Only the eighth grade will take the MEAs in science this year.

Finn gave a presentation on the overall results of the middle-schoolers test scores to the school board Tuesday. The school made annual yearly progress in math but didn’t in reading, Finn said. The math scores did send up a red flag and even though the school made progress, he said, they plan to work on improving math education.

As a school, sixth-graders scored three points above the state average at 646 in math. Sixty-two percent of them met or exceeded the standards.

Seventh-graders, scored an average of 744 in math, compared to the state average of 745. Sixty-three percent met or exceeded standards.

Eighth-graders scored an average of 833 in math, compared to the state average of 843. Thirty-three percent met or exceeded standards.

In reading, sixth-graders scored an average of 649, compared to the state average of 647. Seventy-seven percent met or exceeded the standards.

“That’s incredible,” Finn said.

Overall, seventh-graders scored an average of 750 in reading compared to the state average of 751. Sixty-three percent met or exceeded standards. Overall, eighth-graders scored an average of 846 in reading versus the state average of 850.

Even though the numbers for reading looked good, Finn said, the school didn’t meet the annual yearly progress target as they had hoped under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The school will remain a continuous improvement priority school.

“There is still work to do,” Finn said.

In 2007-08, all three classifications of student groups looked at in the assessments — the whole school, economically disadvantaged and special education — met the targeted annual yearly progress. The school was categorized as a continuous improvement priority school. Staff implemented a variety of strategies to continue to improve education, Finn said.

All three groups have to meet the minimum standards, and if one group fails to meet them then the whole school is identified as not meeting annual yearly progress, Finn said.

This year the whole school and the economically disadvantaged group met the improvement requirements while special education didn’t, Finn said.

One thing the school needs to do is keep track of the students being served in other programs outside the school, he said, to make sure there is consistent education practices in literacy and in other subjects. Some special education students are taught at the middle school, while some attend alternative education or behavioral programs, which are not at the school.

Every year the state moves the target that students are to meet, he said. This coming year it will be a whole new test students will be taking. It will be given in October to assess what children learned in the previous school year. That gives teachers about four weeks to get students up to speed after summer vacation, Finn said.

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