May 11, 2013 at 4:49 pm

LePage grades Maine Schools; gives GSA a C

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It’s that time of year— when students across America sit down and color in lots of little bubbles which will determine their place in the pecking order of college applications (juniors, our thoughts are with you). There is nothing quite like having your intelligence reduced to a number. No doubt many students were secretly sadistically pleased when GSA was handed its own standards-based evaluation by the state government last week in a new LePagean education initiative.

C for capybara! C for 70 to 79 or “perfectly average” as Ms. McCormick used to tell her Brit-Lit class. C for could-be-worse (especially in Calculus). But how does one grade an entire school? You guessed it— standardized testing. The grade is based on the percentage of eligible students who took the SAT last June, their scores, and the school’s graduation rate. MDI and Ellsworth were among 55 other high schools that received Cs, while wealthier schools like Falmouth, Yarmouth and Greely aced the state’s evaluation. Says Rosemeier of the A schools, “It was all places where the socioeconomic level of the student body is high.” The new system is drawing criticism from some educators for hitting poorer schools with lower grades.

So what does a C mean? GSA scored a 324.5 out of 400, which is in the B range, but was dropped a full letter grade for failing to meet the state standard requiring 95% of juniors to take the SAT. Turnout for the test last June was one student short, leaving GSA with 94.2% participation. So close, and yet so far.

The graduation rate that is factored into the score is based not only on current GSA students but on transfers as well, meaning that if a student transfers out of GSA and does not graduate from their new school it decreases GSA’s graduation rate.

GSA teachers have been railing against the score in their classes, voicing their frustration at the flawed rubric. But when asked if the disappointing grade would effect any changes at GSA, Rosemeier said “No, not at all… I don’t care what kind of grade we get.” No school, especially not GSA, can be summed up in a letter grade, just like you can’t be summed up in an SAT score. GSA’s administration, rather than balk at the state’s rating, are continuing to focus their energies on expanding the educational opportunities available for their students. Ms. Rosemeier particularly looks forward to bringing the Eastern Maine Skippers Program to GSA, as well as a course in forestry. Both of which sound like a heck of a lot more fun than the SATs.

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