FARMINGTON — Data from the Maine Department of Education assessments for 2018-19 show students in Regional School Unit 9 are closing in on state averages, Curriculum Coordinator Laura Columbia told the board of directors Tuesday evening.

Columbia reviewed 2018-19 emPowerME, Maine Education Assessment and Scholastic Aptitude Test data recently released from the DOE.

The eMPowerME program evaluates proficiency in literacy and mathematics for students in grades 3 through 8. The MEA for science is administered to students in grades 5, 8, and the third year of high school. The SAT evaluates juniors for proficiency in English/Language Arts and mathematics.

In her presentation, Columbia focused on percentages of students who scored at or above state expectations.

There were 2,241 students enrolled during the 2018-19 school year, she said.

“This year, we improved in every overall section, and we cut the achievement gap between the district and the state in those sections in half,” she said.

Literacy assessments for grades 3-8 showed the strongest growth, Columbia said. In 2017-18, 38% of students scored at or above state expectations. Last year, 51% of students met the threshold.

“Grades 3-8 grew by 13% in ELA (English/Language Arts); the state grew by 7%,” she said.

District math scores in grades 3-8 increased by 3% while the state average decreased by 1%, she added.

“With that being said, we are still not at state average, but we are getting there,” she added.

Director Doug Dunlap of Farmington asked what attributed to the growth.

“We have a more unified approach to what our district goals are,” Columbia said. “Two years ago, assessment scores were really low, so we focused on what we were going to do to help.”

Columbia said next steps include reviewing inclusionary practices and curriculum for students in special education and continuing to work toward unified district goals around best instructional practices.

“Teachers, ed techs, principals are working really hard and have committed to the growth of our students,” Columbia said.

In other matters, directors voted to approve an agreement with strategic planning facilitator, Good Group Decisions of Brunswick.

Earlier this year, the board identified strategic planning for the district as a priority.

Last month, the board heard long-term plan development proposals from Good Group Decisions and New England School Development Council of Marlborough, Massachusetts. They also outlined the process for developing long-term plans. The budget for the process is $20,000.

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