April 07, 2020
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SAD 63 pushes pupils to improve scores on MEAs

HOLDEN – SAD 63 schools are raising the bar for third- and fourth-graders.

Holden Elementary School Principal Dave Anderson and Eddington Elementary School Principal Don Spencer told the SAD 63 board of directors this week that they have set high targets for the state tests pupils will take next spring.

The administrators said they are confident pupils will be able to achieve higher scores on the Maine Educational Assessment thanks to strong math and literacy programs and well-trained teachers who collaborate with one another.

Anderson said he wants 86 percent of his third-grade pupils and 90 percent of his fourth-grade pupils to meet or exceed the standards on the reading portion of the MEA. He’s also looking for 80 percent of his third-graders and 90 percent of his fourth-graders to meet or exceed the math standards.

“I’m trying to push the envelope and get them to stretch,” he said. “It’s a very high bar, but I think they can do it.”

Spencer said he is aiming for 75 percent of his third-grade pupils and 74 percent of his fourth-grade pupils to meet or exceed the standards on the reading MEA. And he wants 70 percent of his third-graders and 58 percent of his fourth-graders to do the same on the math portion.

Last year, there were 15 third-graders who only partially met the math standards; nine were only two points away.

After the tests were analyzed, teachers concluded that pupils this year would do better if they were encouraged to take their time during the assessment and received lots of practice beforehand.

By providing “drills and MEA-type math problems every day, teachers feel they can bring those kids up,” Spencer said.

The principals praised the literacy and math programs used by the district. The Reading First program emphasizes phonics, fluency, vocabulary and text comprehension, while the Trailblazers math program reinforces understanding, computing, applying and reasoning, they said.

Teachers from both schools constantly collaborate and share best practices, which provides consistency throughout the district, the principals said. And professional development workshops, training sessions and mentoring help ensure that teachers are highly qualified.

“You can have the best resources in the world, but if you don’t have teachers who can deliver it, students won’t make these kinds of gains,” Anderson said.

Correction: A shorter version of this article appeared in the State edition.

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