Thursday, October 11, 2001

Cape School Board gets test results

Published in the Current

The Cape Elizabeth School Board heard the town’s schools are ahead of state averages across the board, but the schools’ principals see room for continued improvement in performance on the Maine Educational Assessment test.

The results are of last year’s MEA tests, taken by students in fourth, eighth and eleventh grade. All of the principals said it is a flawed test and can raise more questions than it answers, but acknowledged its standardization across time and across the state makes it a useful evaluation tool.

Tom Eismeier, principal of Pond Cove Elementary School, said the school needs to work on its science curriculum, but was pleased with the results of students’math
scores. He said the school teaches test savvy as well as material specifically on the test.

Eismeier said 75 percent of the students are reading at or above grade level, and most of the rest of the students are near the standards and do not fall into the category labeled “does not meet standards.”

Jeff Shedd, principal at the high school, said data for specific other schools might be more helpful than the statewide average data supplied with the test results.

Shedd said the school’s difficulties in science are a result of time constraints on teaching material, but may also indicate an increased need for lab time in science courses. The slow decline in math scores, Shedd said, while still above the state average, is due to what he called “a demographic fluke,” rather than any problem with the curriculum.

He was concerned about meeting the needs of students who do not meet standards in one or more of the areas examined by the test, and said he would like to investigate adding programs for that portion of the student body.

Middle school principal Nancy Hutton said her students have been having problems with justifying answers in science, though they often know the correct answer. She also said the science curriculum covers some topics in fifth grade on which students are tested in fourth grade.

In other business, the school board:
-Heard from the high school student representatives about the stink-bomb detonated at the high school’s homecoming dance.
-Heard from the middle school student representatives that fifth and sixth grade students will be taking field trips in the area soon, and that the middle school’s gift
wrap sale is complete.
-Received a report from Superintendent Tom Forcella that the music department was invited to participate in the Grammy Foundation program for 2002; the Cape Elizabeth Education Foundation will look at a fundraising campaign to establish an endowment.
-Approved a list of 19 people to serve on the building/renovation project committee, including members of the School Board and Town Council, school administrators, community representatives, teachers, the athletic director and three parents.
-Heard that School Board member Kevin Sweeney’s son Brendan was enthusiastically
greeted at the middle school last week while on leave from the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, N.C.
-Learned the exchange trip to France planned by teacher David Peary will be cancelled due to lack of a participating school in France.
-Approved, with the condition that the State Department’s travel guidelines be adhered to, an exchange program with a school in Costa Rica which will bring 16 Costa Rican students and two teachers to Cape in January and send 12 Cape students to Costa Rica in April. The board said they wanted a report from the students in the program, led by teacher Mark Pendarvis, when they returned.

The next school board meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13 in the Council Chambers in town hall.