PARIS — During Monday night’s Maine School Administrative District 17 business meeting, Curriculum Director Jill Bartash shared data from state assessment tests for reading and math conducted over the last three years. Scores for most schools are showing improved performance since the end of the pandemic, but it is clear that challenges from two years of school closings, quarantines and remote learning remain.

An additional challenge to analyzing assessment scores year-over-year are that three different testing formats have been utilized in Maine in the past six years, Bartash explained to directors. During the 2018-19 academic year, eMPowerME was implemented, and the following year there were no assessments done while schools were closed during the early months of COVID-related mandates.

SAD 17 Curriculum Director Jill Bartash walked school board directors through state assessment results during Monday night’s school board meeting. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

During the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years tests were provided by Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), a division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishing. Since 2022 the Maine Department of Education has utilized Maine Through Year, another test program developed by NWEA.

The assessments are done in public school districts statewide. SAD 17 has also used Star assessments for reading and math for several years, which has the benefit of more consistent data history.

According to Bartash, the major takeaways from assessment data are attendance, loss of learning between 2019 and 2022, and for continuing educator training to meet the demands of post-pandemic education.

“Attendance matters,” she explained in her presentation.”Students need to be in school to learn new concepts, to fill learning gaps from previous years, and to gain the benefits of social connections to the school community.


“Rebounding [from COVID] will take time. Students missed from two-thirds to an entire year of schooling. This will take years to recapture. And professional development, coaching and intervention matter.”

She said educators are teaching children who have missed out on fundamentals to prepare them for later grades and it is important they are prepared to fill in gaps that have not been part of their curriculum in the past.

To counter those challenges, SAD 17 will continue targeting school attendance with a team approach to reduce chronic absenteeism, prioritize professional development and training to support students as they progress from lost classroom experiences and build multi-tiered supports and interventions to meet struggling students.

Most recent results were not certified, but year-to-year comparisons by school show that Oxford Hills scores continue to lag below state averages. But as statewide scores are improving in post-pandemic school years, local results are on similar upward trajectories.

The state averages in 2020-21 were 85.0 in reading and 81.3 in math. The next two years each declined to 64.6 in reading and 48.7 in math, but recovered slightly this year to 65.3 although math went to 47.2.

In SAD 17, 2020-21 averaged 80.1 in reading and 74.1, dipping down to 56.2 in reading and 32.2 in math last year, but this year reading improved to 57.0 and math held at 32.2.

In other business, the board voted unanimously to approve $2 million in tax and revenue anticipation notes. It establishes a line of credit for the district to pay bills during the school year when there are timing gaps in federal grants and reimbursements and local share payments. Renewed annually, the fund is a tool for managing cash flow of budgeted expenditures.

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