Maine students’ test scores remain flat

Posted Feb. 04, 2013, at 7:14 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Test scores for Maine’s public school students showed little evidence of improvement, according to new data released Monday afternoon by the Department of Education.

According to scores from the New England Common Assessment Program, reading and math scores for Maine students in grades three through eight were virtually unchanged from 2011 to 2012. Writing scores showed a slight uptick, though a Department of Education official said the improvement could be due to routine fluctuations that have been seen over the years in writing scores.

Some of the statewide scores actually went down. In reading, 71 percent of students tested were proficient according to the October 2012 test given to third- through eighth-graders, compared to 72 percent the previous year. In math, 62 percent of students scored proficient, down from 63 percent in 2011.

In NECAP writing tests, which are given to students in grades five and eight, the 51 percent proficiency in 2012 bested the 2011 statewide scores by five percentage points. Dan Hupp, director of standards and assessment for the Maine Department of Education, said in a news release that writing scores can be volatile from one year to the next.

“In writing, we are hopeful that it is the start of a trend, but it’s too early to say,” Hupp said.

The scores are unlikely to please the LePage administration, which since coming into office has hammered public schools for mediocre performance and a failure to improve. David Connerty-Marin, spokesman for the Department of Education, said Monday evening that the latest results represent “just more of the same” of what the state has seen in recent years regarding test scores.

“It’s sobering to see that we aren’t seeing progress in reading and math in the way that we would like to see,” said Connerty-Marin.

Comparisons between Maine and other states — including the three other New England states that participate in the NECAP — weren’t available Monday evening, though Connerty-Marin said Maine students in general still test above the national average.

The October 2013 administration of the NECAP will mark the end of this particular test’s use in Maine. The state and numerous others are working toward implementation of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test, which beginning in the 2014-15 school year will measure students according to the Common Core State Standards.

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