The overall student proficiency in math and English language arts declined over the past four years in Topsham-based Maine School Administrative District 75 schools.

Six out of seven schools in the district had approximately 55% of students below or well below the state expectations in math in 2018-19. Three schools saw more than 45% of students score below expectations in English language arts.

Districtwide, the majority of students performed at or above expectations in science over the past four years.

The MSAD 75 school district covers Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Harpswell and Topsham.

Nearly 65% of students in Woodside Elementary School were below or well below the state expectations in Math in the 2018-19 academic year, which is an increase of 8% from the previous 2017-18 academic year. While the school saw a 3% improvement in students’ English language arts performance in the 2018-19 academic year compared to the previous year, the performance still falls below the state expectation, according to the Maine Department of Education dashboard.

Student Assessment Rate over the last four years in the Topsham-based MSAD 75 School District. Maine Department of Education.

Similarly, Mt. Ararat High School saw 63% of students perform below or well below the state expectations in math in 2018-19. While this is a 1% improvement in the student performance rate compared to the previous year, it is a 7% increase in the number of students below or well below the state expectations in math compared to 2015-16 and 2016-17 academic year.

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“I noticed that discrepancy myself, and I think there are a lot of reasons as to why the performance rate in some subjects is low. It relates to the curriculum and instruction that students have received and as well as the support that they have received dating back to their time in elementary school,” said Mt. Ararat High School Principal Chris Hoffman. “I have an interest in making sure that students have the robust support that they need, ultimately to achieve regardless of where they are starting from.”

Hoffman said this year they are focusing on reviewing their approach to the Response to Intervention program that is intended to fill gaps in student knowledge, where they identify students who may be behind in a particular area, especially in reading, writing and math.

“The interventions generally include a combination of tools, including additional small group and individual instruction, and as well as in some cases, technological tools, online programs, and other services that target areas of deficiency,” said Hoffman. “In this school year, I have been reviewing how we have done those things in the past so that we can improve upon the nature of those services moving forward.”

Across the state, 32,310 or 36% out of 90,640 students were at or above the expectations in math in 2018-19.

Nearly 50,495 or 56% of students out of 90,339 and 23,019 or 60% out of 38,387 students were at or above the expectations in English and Science, respectively, according to the DOE data.

Research shows that testing students regularly and tailoring lessons to meet their individual needs can build their math skills appropriately.

Topsham parent Allen Sarvinas said the relationship between the school, the students, and their parents also impacts the students’ performance.

“Nowadays, parents are not used to interacting with digital devices in terms of checking for their children’s homework. There is a knowledge divide, and parents do not relate to how their children are learning and reading,” said Sarvinas. “In the past, parents saw their children come home with a backpack full of books, and they knew what the kids were reading and learning, but now parents’ involvement is not appreciated or wanted which also affects the learning process.”


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