Media Archive

PVHS makes federal priority school list

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 165, No. 7, February 12, 2003

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

Eighth-grade MEA test scores signal area of need

MILO The state identified Penquis Valley High School in Milo as one of 24 schools in need of improvement, under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The priority school list was released Jan. 23, based on the results of the 2002 state Maine Learning Results. Specifically, the list identifies Penquis Valley High's eighth grade, due to math scores.

According to a press release from the state Department of Education, the majority of the elementary, middle and high schools identified in the priority school list were identified based on performance in the math tests.

SAD 41 Superintendent David Walker explained the priority list status to the school board last week. He said Monday that the district already had identified math as "an area of critical need."

"This came as no surprise," he said. "We've had the MEA scores for some time."

In order to be identified as a priority school in the area of mathematics, he explained, 50 percent of the students taking the MEA exams in a particular grade either fourth, eighth or eleventh must not meet the minimum standard. For reading, 20 percent must not meet the minimum standard, and in writing, the percentage is 35.

Other schools on the list include Millinocket Middle School, St. Albans Consolidated School, Shead High School in Eastport and the Indian Township School.

Walker said that while the district is not happy with the identification, the priority school status comes with additional support from the state. He said the district is looking forward to the services of a math consultant, as much as $20,000 in teacher training funding and other assistance.

According to Commissioner of Education J. Duke Albanese, the state's philosophy regarding priority schools differs from that outlined in the federal No Child Left Behind Act. In the press release, he explained that while federal law "spells out a series of sanctions including provisions for replacement of staff and ultimate state control if performance continues to lag over time Maine's public policy provides for technical assistance: a helping hand to schools from knowledgeable educators, as well as additional resources, both human and financial, through the department."

Walker said that Maine, with 24 priority schools named this year, has set high standards, which can prove to be a double-edged sword. While it's good to set the bar high for students to achieve, he said, not all states set those high standards, and Maine can be penalized in the eyes of federal authorities.

Walker said the priority school identification will allow the district to address the area of need more quickly than without such support.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.