DIXFIELD — Eighth-graders at Mountain Valley Middle School in Rumford raised their Maine Educational Assessment scores in reading 13 points last year, according to test results released recently. The reason: Several years of emphasizing literacy.

In fact, reading scores improved for most students in grades three through eight in Buckfield, Dixfield, Mexico, Peru, Rumford and Sumner. Those schools also include students from the other district towns of Hanover, Carthage, Canton, Roxbury, Byron and Hartford.

Almost districtwide, mathematics was a different matter. For middle school students in Buckfield, Dixfield and Mexico, only Buckfield’s maintained score that about about the same as the state average. Dixfield and Mexico students scored five or six points below the state average.

The students took the tests last year before SADs 43 in Rumford, 39 in Buckfield and 21 in Dixfield merged into the Western Foothills School District, or Regional School Unit 10.

District Curriculum Coordinator Gloria Jenkins has met with the staff of Dirigo Middle School in Dixfield and Mountain Valley Middle School in Rumford to devise a plan that could help lift the scores. Under the plan, one late-start day each month will be devoted to coaching teachers to integrate mathematics in all subjects.

“We’ll involve bus drivers and food service workers, too,” Jenkins said.

Traditionally, every third- through eighth-grader in Maine has taken the MEA in March. However, this coming school year those tests will be replaced by the New England Common Assessment Program. Jenkins said several northern New England states are joining to use the new test as a cost-cutting measure.

The three high schools in the new district, Mountain Valley in Rumford, Dirigo in Dixfield and Buckfield also recently received results of the Scholastic Aptitude Test for 11th-graders. Scores in reading, math and writing were a point or two lower than the state average.

The test was administered to 41 students in Buckfield, 78 in Dixfield and 157 in Rumford.

Jenkins said one of the advantages of bringing the three districts together is the opportunity to learn from each other.

“We’re looking to each other to improve education,” she said.

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