December 18, 2017
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See how your school compares on spending, kids in poverty, success

By Darren Fishell, BDN Staff
Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times | BDN
Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times | BDN
Members of Houlton High School's Class of 2017 rejoice at a June graduation ceremony. In 2016, about 61 percent of graduates went on to college the following fall. A new dashboard from Maine Focus' Your School project includes graduation data from 142 high schools and 541 elementary and middle schools around the state.

The Bangor Daily News has compiled a range of separate public reports about Maine’s schools, and put the data covering a wide range of school-level measurements such as enrollment, average teacher salaries and dropout rates in one place for you to search and explore.

We wanted to increase access to data compiled by the state at the school level, so we created two dashboards, one for high schools and another for elementary and middle schools. We also have published a version of our full dataset, built from Maine Department of Education data and college outcome data from the National Student Clearinghouse.

In each of the graphics below, you can search for your school and compare it with other similar schools in the same county and the rest of the state.

High school search

Elementary and middle school search

The state tracks a variety of school trends, but changes throughout the years pose a number of challenges. First of all, schools open and close, districts shift around, and sometimes measurement criteria change.

For ease of comparison, our dataset portrays schools and districts as they were organized in the spring of 2017. For example, two Rockland area high schools that merged are reflected under their current name, Oceanside High School East.

In some cases, that affects schools of different levels, too. Some former elementary and middle schools appear grouped with current high schools. For example, Ashland District School reflects all enrollment for Ashland Central and Ashland Community High School back to 2007. The schools consolidated for the 2011-2012 school year.

In some cases, data is either missing or redacted for individual years, and will show as a blank on the graphs. Each will still show statewide and county figures.

In other cases, we had to make some concessions with the data. The Maine Department of Education offers average classroom teacher salaries by school or district, but not by county. We show the middlepoint of those averages, or the median, across similar schools in a given county or state.

Separately, some of the most recent department of education data have unresolved problems. The total teacher and staff counts for 2015-2016 show an incorrect jump from the prior year, according to the department, but it’s not known why. For that reason, we’ve excluded that year from staff metrics until the issue is resolved.

Our dataset also includes statistics on college degree attainment, which the Department of Education publishes in individual PDF reports in a partnership with the National Student Clearinghouse. We brought that data into one place, allowing analysis of trends related to college enrollment and completion alongside a variety of measures at the high school level.

The data dashboards are one part of the Bangor Daily News’ larger Your School project, an ongoing look at education trends and policy in the state.

We want your help and input. As you explore more information about individual schools around the state, we want to hear more from you about the stories you think should be told about Maine classrooms.

And if you have other data points you’d like to see in the dashboards above, send your suggestions to Maine Focus reporter Darren Fishell on Twitter (@darrenfishell) or via email (dfishell@bangordailynews.com).

Maine Focus is a journalism and community engagement initiative at the Bangor Daily News.

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