AUBURN — Test scores for Auburn students in grades three through eight dropped in reading and math this past fall compared to the year before, while Lewiston scores were effectively flat and statewide scores went down.

In Auburn, 62 percent of students in those grades were deemed proficient in reading, down from 65 percent the year before. In math, 54 percent of Auburn students were proficient or better, compared to 58 percent the year before, Curriculum Director Shelly Mogul said.

Those scores, as measured by New England Common Assessment Program tests given in October, matched a statewide trend of overall lower scores. The state averages were 69 percent, down from 71 percent, in reading, and 60 percent, down from 62 percent, in math.

“The conversations I’ve had with other districts is that everybody is lamenting about their math scores,” Mogul said. It takes a fair number of districts’ scores to affect the state average, she said.

Auburn is working to boost standards on several fronts, including the adoption of mass customized learning methods, which give students individual lessons and more technology-based lessons.

“But it’s way too early” to see improved test results from those initiatives, Mogul said. For example, this year’s second-graders are the class that got iPads as kindergarten students, but only third-graders and up are given the state tests.

Much of the focus in customized learning is creating a classroom culture that helps students become more motivated to be in charge of their own educations. Auburn is also working to create a curriculum with learning targets consistent across the districts, Mogul said.

In Lewiston, scores on the NECAP were pretty much the same as the year before: 56 percent of students were proficient or better in reading, down one point. In math, 50 percent scored at grade level or higher, the same as the year before.

“We’re concerned that scores are not heading upward,” Chief Academic Officer Sue Martin said.

Lewiston elementary and middle schools have retooled math and English language arts curriculums with a heavier focus on more complex tasks, Martin said.

More students, including those at Longley and Montello elementary schools and the middle and high schools, have attended longer school days and have had access to new summer programs. “We are attempting to make this universally available,” Martin said.

Lewiston schools also are buying more math resources for all schools and more content reading for all grades. And teachers are undergoing more meaningful evaluations designed to provide more coaching, which is expected to lead to improved lessons.

Overall expectations of what students should know, and the testing, has been made tougher in the past decade, educators said. “With the onset of No Child Left Behind, schools were mandated to really inspect what they were doing and increase rigor,” George Veilleux, director of instructional support for Lewiston Public Schools, said.

All Maine students will take new tests, called “The Smarter Balanced” test, beginning with grades three through eight this spring.

Administrators have long complained that students in those grades are tested for the prior year in October, not long after the summer recess when students lose some of what they learned the year before.

For more information, or to see test results for individual school districts, to go: www.maine.gov/doe/dataresources.

For more information on the New England Common Assessment Program or to see test results for individual school districts, to go: www.maine.gov/doe/dataresources.


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