This column has talked about this before: taxpayers, parents, and, indeed, students need to know more about our schools. In what areas do they excel? Where are they weak? The Maine Department of Education crunches and compares data, and publishes the results online. It summarizes school performance by looking at English, Maths, Absenteeism and Graduation Rates. The ratings are rather like labeling olives: large is the smallest size.
“Emerging”, “Developing”, “Meeting”, and “Excelling” are the state’s ratings. Telstar and Telstar Middle rate “Excelling” in English. It’s all downhill from there, though Crescent Park is at least “Developing” in all areas. This is an imperfect picture of any school, but worth considering. Why is SAD 44 so good at one thing? What’s to be done about problem areas? New programs or people; redirection or reinforcement?
Profiles of successful students, published in the Citizen, dwell on their sporting achievements, club memberships, leadership, etc. Those things are important, but they’re called the extracurricular for a reason. What can we learn from these students about learning well?
SAD 44’s spending per student isn’t comparatively low, but there are few economies of scale in a small district. Do we need to spend more, or less, or differently? Unfortunately, the recently distributed Budget Review doesn’t tell us; it presents sums of money, and tells us, in the simplest terms, what they pay for. On June 18 The Citizen described the exceptional work of the Telstar Dean and the Student Assistance Team; how should we encourage that sort of thing, get more of it, and pay for it?
The public needs to know more about the District schools. Perhaps the District needs to know more about the public. Browsing the Navajo Times in March, I encountered an ad advertising the curiosity of the Gallup-McKinley (New Mexico) Schools: “All residents… (including, but not limited to: parents, community members, staff and administrators) are encouraged to please take a brief on-line survey to provide feedback regarding budget priorities, district communication, and parental involvement.” Good idea.
Let’s all know more next year.


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