2013-04-26 / Front Page

Kaler School Receives an "F" Under State's New Report Card System

Students, parents and staff will hold "Kalerbration" Thursday evening to highlight the school's positive achievements
By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer

The Maine Department of Education released report cards grading each school in the state this afternoon. South Portland’s James Otis Kaler Elementary School was one of 40 schools in the state to receive an “F.”

The grades were based on data from the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) test results for elementary and middle school students. High school grades were based on scores from the Maine High School Assessment (MHSA). The grading system measures both proficiency and growth in math and reading scores.

The South Portland School Department will host a “Kalerbration” on Thursday, May 2 from 5:15 to 7 p.m. at the Kaler School to celebrate the achievements Kaler students, staff and parents have made that don’t show up on the NECAP scores, said Superintendent Suzanne Godin in a media release.

“Although the data behind our grade is accurate, it does not tell the story of our school community’s journey to improve teaching and learning,” Godin said in the release.

The other seven schools in the South Portland School Department all received grades of “C” or higher. The Waldo T. Skillin Elementary School, Frank I. Brown Elementary School, and both middle schools received a “C.” South Portland High School received a “B,” and Dyer Elementary School received an “A.” 

All three schools in the Cape Elizabeth School Department received an “A.”

Rebecca Millett, who represents South Portland and Cape Elizabeth in the Maine Senate, said the grading system does not help Maine’s schools.

“Issuing letter grades for schools is akin to brandishing them with a ‘scarlet letter.’ It is shaming and stigmatizing–and, it seeks to embarrass students, teachers, and schools rather than motivate, incentivize, and actually help underperforming schools do better,” Millett said in her weekly radio address on Saturday, April 13.

Millett, a member of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, said in an email release standardized test scores are “poor indicators of learning” because they don’t accurately reflect many areas of learning and they are influenced by socioeconomic factors.

Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen said the state will be increasing support to struggling schools. Eight percent of both elementary and high schools received an “F,” including Portland’s East End Community School and Fred P. Hall School. Overall, 81 percent of elementary schools and 69 percent of high schools received an A, B or C.

“The release of the report cards today is an opportunity for a constructive conversation on school performance in which we are all speaking the same language,” Bowen said in a release.

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