2016-12-22 / Front Page

OOB reacts to MEA results

Officials discuss hiring curriculum coordinator
By Anthony Aloisio
Staff Writer

OLD ORCHAD BEACH – Regional School Unit 23 (RSU 23) board and staff are reacting to low scores from the 2015-2016 year’s Maine Educational Assessments (MEA). The results published are the percentages of students performing at expectations. About 40 percent of RSU 23 students met expectations for science testing, 22.08 percent for math, and 40 percent for English/language arts. Maine’s state averages were 61 percent for science, 38.3 percent for math, and 50.6 percent for English/language arts. For Biddeford students, 52 percent met expectations for science, 24.96 for math, and 40.22 for English/Language Arts. For Saco students, 57.41 percent for science, 38.18 percent for Math, and 52.31 percent for English/ language arts.

“While these results are not where we would like to be,” RSU 23 Superintendent John Suttie wrote in a statement dated Dec. 14, “they do provide us with a snapshot of the necessary changes and improvements we have to make in the way we educate our students.”

MEA are written exams given yearly to students between grades three and eight, and to high school juniors. The assessments are meant to measure the progress of Maine’s students towards content standards.

Suttie said he has been meeting with RSU 23 school principals to discuss the results.

“These meetings have resulted in a thoughtful, articulate, plan to help our students collectively achieve at a higher level academically,” Suttie wrote.

One part of that plan, proposed at the Dec. 15 RSU 23 board meeting by board member Carol Marcotte, could be the hiring of a curriculum director for the district. Suttie described what the role of such a staff member would be.

“We’re looking at reallocating our money to put a greater focus on numeracy and literacy,” Suttie told the Courier after the meeting. “Part of that restructure is to bring in a person who can assess our current level of functioning, somebody who can determine what assessments would be appropriate for us to track student progress, someone who can help teachers develop best instructional practices, and someone who can use the data available to us to inform and improve our instruction.”

“We have attempted different models in my two years here as a principal,” Suttie continued. “My first year, we had a curriculum committee made up of teachers. This year we’ve given some of the responsibility to administrators.”

Saco and Biddeford’s school departments both have curriculum directors on staff. According to Suttie, the role and from of curriculum director varies from district to district, but the models RSU 23 has tried since it broke rom Saco in 2014 have not worked.

“The bottom line is, currently we do not have the capacity within our district to do the work necessary in that area,” Suttie said.

Suttie added in an email that “any additional positions created will not add to the district’s personnel costs. The restructure will be revenue neutral.”

Suttie said aside from the proposal for a curriculum director, other changes are being considered, but he declined to give specifics before budget season.

Although the assessment scores were low, Suttie declined to call them disappointing.

“I’m not disappointed, I’m like ‘OK, here’s where we’re at,’” Suttie said.

According to Suttie, members in the RSU 23 community have said the MEA changed significantly this year. The educational assessment contractor for the state changed, and as a result some of the format and the design of the questions was different. Suttie acknowledged the fact but rejected it as an excuse, responding that the state average is still a meaningful comparison.

“Everyone else took it for the first time too,” Suttie said.

Suttie encouraged a constructive attitude in his Dec. 14 statement.

“Please understand this is a culture and practice shift that will take several years before each grade is consistently at state average or above in each academic area,” Suttie wrote. “There is no quick fix and patience will be required.”

Suttie will host an event,“Coffee with the Superintendent,” at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 11 in the Loranger Memorial School Library. He encourages parents to attend.

Contact Staff Writer Anthony Aloisio at news@inthecourier.com.

FMI

Parents are invited to “Coffee with the Superintendent,” at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 11 in the Loranger Memorial School Library to discuss school district concerns.

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