Saturday, March 8, 2014
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"We need to be looking at the whole picture," she said. "One test score is a puzzle piece."
Cressey said the waiver, if granted, will take some pressure off schools.
"It will reset the targets for schools based on current performance," she said. "Schools would still have to decrease the number of students who are not proficient, but the target would be attainable."
Many education officials feel the No Child Left Behind targets have long been unrealistic. According to current Maine Department of Education estimates, no Maine school will reach 100 percent proficiency by 2014, the law's original goal.
Cressey said Portland schools historically have been more likely to fail to meet standards, in part because No Child Left Behind sets targets for schools as a whole, and for specific demographic subgroups, including African American students, economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities. If one subgroup fails, the entire school fails.
Subgroups are measured only if enough students fit into that specific category, Cressey said. Portland, for example, is likely to have many more economically disadvantaged students than Falmouth or Cape Elizabeth.
In the past, struggling schools have received additional funds as an incentive to improve. Riverton Elementary and East End Community schools received three-year school improvement grants of $3.4 million and $2.7 million, respectively, to turn around students' performance.
Those changes included replacing half of the faculty. Last year, and again this year, those schools met the federal standards.
In more recent years, however, less federal money has been available to improve schools that fail to meet the standards.
Staff Writer Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at: