Making the Grade: Using the data to support Maine schools

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Parents

Parents, this is first and foremost for you and your children. You can help improve your child’s school – whether it’s getting a B or a D.

  • Ask yourself: Does the grade reflect what you know from what your school has shared with you about your child’s school and the instruction and support your child is receiving? Is there more data, or questions about the data, you would like school officials to share and explain?
  • Ask your principal or school board about their plans for improvement – no matter whether your school received a B or a D or something in between. Every school has plans for improvement. Ask specifics: how will your school’s plans lead to improved student achievement? How can you help support your school’s improvement efforts?
  • Dig deeper! Go to the Data Warehouse and look up your school. Compare it to similar schools and look at the details.
  • How are different groups of students, such as English Language Learners, students with disabilities, and others, doing?
  • How does your school’s performance compare with other schools that have similar demographics?
  • What are the attendance and graduation rates?
  • What is the gap between the graduation rate and the proficiency rates in reading and math at your high school?

School boards and superintendents

School boards and their members play an important role in explaining to families how their schools are doing and what they plan to do to improve.

  • Ask your district and school administrators to explain how the grades reflect the school-improvement plans they have developed.
  • Help parents and community members understand what plans your schools are making to improve and how you are investing limited funds wisely. Engage them and seek feedback.
  • Explain the numbers. How did your schools receive the grades they did? What are the areas to be proud of, and what are the areas that need improvement?
  • Make the case for change. Sure, it could be that more money is part of the solution, but what about the bold changes in how you deliver education that you know will make improvements but parents might resist? Now is the time to make the case.

 

Principals and teachers

School grades are like student grades – they provide an opportunity to understand how we’re doing and make plans for improvement. They are a “snapshot.”

  • Help students understand that the school grade is useful information that teachers, principals, school district officials and others can use to see how your school is doing, and to work to improve your grade, no matter what it is now – just like the grades they receive as students.
  • Assure students that the grades are not a reflection on them – it’s something the entire school community will have to work to improve.
  • Examine how your local data aligns with the report card. Are there key areas needing immediate attention? Do they match your building priorities?
  • Empower your community to be informed and involved. Encourage teachers and parents to look at the detailed information about your schools in the Data Warehouse.