FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 Superintendent Tina Meserve reported to directors Tuesday evening, Oct. 8, the district had received its assessment data from the Maine Department of Education. The data, she said, showed an overall district improvement.

“It is still confidential and not ready to be released to the public. However, I am pleased to say RSU 9 did very well on their assessments.”

She said district scores overall increased from 38% of students ranking as proficient in English/Language Arts in 2017-18 to 51% proficient last year. In mathematics, the district increased from 20% proficient to 30% proficient, she said.

“When I looked at other metrics that are important to us, there were improvements in every single one,” she said.

Chairperson Cherieann Harrison of Wilton reported Farmington Director Iris Silverstein would be vacating her seat at the end of November.  “She is moving out of our district,” Harrison said. “It will be a big loss for us. She has spent many years on the board and it is very much appreciated.”

Farmington selectmen will be tasked with appointing an interim director who will fill the slot until town meeting elections are held in March.


That same evening, Farmington selectmen appointed Kirk Doyle as an interim director to fill a seat vacated by Isaac Raymond.

In other matters, Meserve and Curriculum Coordinator Laura Columbia reviewed the grading system implemented at the start of the 2018-19 school year.

In 2012, state law established graduation standards based on students’ proficiency. Districts were given five years to come into compliance with it the standards, often referred to as “proficiency-based education.” The law was repealed in July 2018, allowing school administrative units to choose between continuing proficiency-based learning or traditional grading requirements.

At the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, RSU 9 implemented a hybrid system of traditional grading on a 0–100 scale and assessment of students on standards and learning targets for students in grades 6-12.

“Just to clarify a common misconception, we really are not doing PBE. We are doing standards-based grading and reporting with aspects of PBE,” Columbia said.

The focus is on instructional practices, Meserve said.


Columbia said staff, students and families were surveyed throughout the school year regarding the grading system. Data was also gathered from student focus groups.

The data revealed rubrics, reporting standards and clear learning targets were highly valued, she said.

“One of the biggest obstacles was ensuring consistency and clarity. This resulted in the creation of a family grading guide and a faculty grading and reporting guide,” she said.

For added consistency, each teacher in grades 6-12 created a syllabus that was shared with students at the beginning of the current school year.

“There was a template so it created commonality but there were options teachers could use at their discretion,” she said.

Each syllabus required late work procedures, reassessment and revision procedures, habits of work expectations, content standards and learning targets, Columbia said.


The data was brought back to the Educational Policy Committee, she said.

“They felt there was a general improvement of understanding some of the aspects of the system. There were concerns about students having opportunities to exceed or being challenged in the classroom,” she said.

Columbia said the next steps in the continued evaluation of the grading practice would be ongoing professional development and time for content standards and learning target review, and rubric use and implementation.

“We recommend continuing with the current grading and reporting practices as outlined in current policy and to review the graduation requirement policy to ensure it aligns with the law for traditional diploma,” she added.

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