BANGOR, Maine — The Maine Department of Education on Thursday commended 21 schools across the state for high or improved academic performance.

The high-performing schools are Farrington School in Augusta, Edgecomb Eddy School, Fayette Central School, Beech Hill School in Otis, Dresden Elementary School, Durham Community School, Minot Consolidated School, South Hiram Elementary School, Woodstock School, Daniel W. Merritt School in Addison, Coastal Ridge Elementary School in York and Bradford Elementary School.

The progress reward schools are Beals Elementary School, Dike-Newell School in Bath, Edna Drinkwater School in Northport, Harrington Elementary School, Kenduskeag Elementary School, Palermo Consolidated School, Stetson Elementary School, Upper Kennebec Valley Senior High School in Bingham and Whiting Village School.

The department pointed out that at two-thirds of the schools more than half the students are eligible for free and reduced lunch under federal poverty guidelines. Studies have shown that schools with high rates of poverty tend to be at a disadvantage, because students whose families struggle with financial issues may struggle to focus or be invested in school and might not have supports at home that are as strong as a more financially “well-off” household.

All the schools on the list have enrollments with higher than 20 percent free and reduced lunch.

“As the Maine DOE continues to raise expectations for all students, these schools provide an example of the excellence that results where there is a shared commitment to effective, learner-centered instruction; great teachers and leaders and multiple pathways for learner achievement,” the department wrote in a news release.

Wednesday, the DOE released a list of 564 schools, about 250 of which the state will seek to help implement changes. The schools are split into five tiers: priority, focus, monitor, progressing and meeting. Depending on what category the schools fall into, they are required to make changes.

The full list is available on the state’s education Data Warehouse by clicking “Data Tables” followed by “ESEA Reports.”

The state has a list of “intervention” procedures for these schools.

For example, those under “monitor,” “priority” or “focus” are required to perform a self-assessment and create an improvement plan, while only priority schools are required to implement “turnaround” steps, such as reviewing principal performance and redesigning the school day structure. The other two categories either are progressing toward or meeting performance expectations.

Under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or No Child Left Behind, the government placed oversights and requirements on schools in hopes of closing achievement gaps nationally resulting from poverty, racial differences or school locations.

In 2013, the federal DOE approved Maine’s “flexibility” application, allowing the state to implement its own statewide plans to close achievement games and improve educational outcomes in the state’s schools.

Performance and testing data for each of these schools and all Maine schools are available through the DOE’s data warehouse at

Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.