DIXFIELD — Test scores for students in Western Foothills Regional School Unit 10 weren’t as good as administrators had hoped, but curriculum coordinator Gloria Jenkins said they provide a baseline from which to start.

The New England Comprehensive Assessment Program test results for all children in grades 3 through 8 were released, as were the results of the Scholastic Aptitude Tests taken by all high school juniors.

In general, scores for RSU 10 grades 3 to 8 students were three or four points below the state average.

This was the first year the so-called NECAPs were administered so the district has no numbers for comparison. Until last fall’s testing, youngsters had taken Maine Educational Assessment tests. According to the state testing data review, the scores on the two tests cannot be compared.

On top of the less than desired student scores, Jenkins and Superintendent Tom Ward said the state has set higher targets for proficiency of subject matter.

“The targets are changing,” Jenkins said.

For example, 50 percent of students were required to meet proficiency on mathematics and reading for school years 2005-06 and 2006-07. Now, that target is 66 percent.

Ward said the district does everything it can to help students, but some factors are out of the district’s hands.

Such as the high percentage of students eligible for free and reduced lunches.

According to a demographic statistical study, the number of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches jumped in each of the region’s nine schools between 2006 and 2009.

Increasing the most were students at Hartford-Sumner Elementary School, at 18 percent, Meroby Elementary School at 16 percent, and Mountain Valley High School at 15 percent. Eligibility grew the least at Dirigo Middle School at 6 percent and Buckfield Junior-Senior High School at 7 percent. The other schools and their percentages include: Dirigo High School and Rumford Elementary School, 10 percent; and Dirigo Elementary School and Mountain Valley Middle School, 11 percent.

The schools with the highest percentage of eligible students were Rumford elementary at 85 percent, Mountain Valley middle at 72 percent, and Hartford-Sumner elementary at 66 percent.

Poverty does make an impact, Ward said.

The test results also showed that three schools were in the second year of not making Adequate Yearly Progress as outlined by the state. They are: Buckfield Junior-Senior High School, Dirigo Elementary School and Meroby Elementary School.

Jenkins said every school in the region has been required to devise a plan to improve education and test scores.

Many plans call for greater involvement by students’ parents, something she said the Buckfield region does well. All call for more quickly identifying a child who may be in academic trouble in math or other subjects.

“We try to be more focused on that child and the particular problem,” she said.

Each school has devised a plan that includes scheduling or staffing changes, additional professional development, or curriculum changes.

For example, a Mountain Valley Middle School teacher is the coordinator for any interventions that must be made to help a child improve, said Jenkins.

The results of the Scholastic Aptitude Tests were also within four or five points from the state average.

All the test results, as well as many other factors, will become part of the region’s strategic plan that is currently being written. Jenkins said it should be complete by the time the next budget process begins in December. That plan will outline goals and priorities for the newly merged schools for the next two to three years and must be approved by the board.

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