How can you ensure your children are enrolled in the curriculum that best meets their needs and interests?
GreatSchoolsforME.org provides a wealth of information on Customized Learning in Maine, Maine’s schools, student performance and comprehensive data on school spending.
During my serene walk around the campus of University of Maine 4-H Camp & Learning Center at Bryant Pond last Friday, I vicariously enjoyed through the students the thrill of a game of man-hunt through the woods, hanging over the dock leading out to the water surrounded by a breathtaking view of the mountains, and discovering in endless fields outdoors, how to build and operate (this I did try!) motorized cars.
Susan Jennings, the University of Maine’s Oxford County Extension Educator, hosted Scott Moody and me with a tour of the 150+ acre campus supporting a hardly noticeable group of sixty students that day. She explained to us that a number of public schools as far south as Kittery, Maine contract with the camp so that their students can participate in the experiential learning programs on site.
Some students, like the ones we met Friday, spend one day a week at Bryant Pond in place of their traditional classroom setting. Overnights in the new dormitories are a special adventure, a few times throughout the school year for some students, and for others, a regular treat several times throughout the week.
To the left is a photo taken of one of several night sky scenes painted on the ceiling of a classroom facility. The constellations depicted are drawn to scale and completely accurate. On a rainy night, these paintings allow kids to nevertheless gaze under the stars and study the constellations.
Parents whose children participate in the camp programs throughout the school year commonly report tremendous improvement in their student’s physical fitness, academic achievement, and overall happiness as a result of the student-centered experiential learning focus.
In addition to the coordination between public schools and the Learning Center during the school year, the camp offers all kinds of summer programs in which parents can enroll their children. These programs include Teen Leadership Camp, Maine Military Adventure Camp (for children of military families only), a Woodscraft Program Path, and much more.
What a fun discovery of another Customized Learning opportunity in Maine! GreatSchoolsforME would love for all Maine’s children to be able to use their allocated per-pupil public dollars to enroll in the learner-centered programs at Bryant Pond.
And what his biggest critics (attributing shame to students and equating grades with the Scarlet Letter) are missing is the fact that our schools were already ranked on publicly-accessible web sites for years! Sites like Trulia and Zillow for example showcase Maine schools’ rankings on a 1 (low) to 10 (high) scale to, mainly, prospective home buyers looking for a neighborhood with “good schools” for their children.
Check it out. Below is a list of high schools I compiled drawing from Maine’s busiest corridor between Biddeford and Waterville. School rankings listed on Trulia are comparable to, and in some cases more critical than those grades issued by Maine’s Department of Education. A 3 or a 4 for instance, out of 10, normally equates to an F, definitely not a C or a D!
|Biddeford High School||C||4|
|Cape Elizabeth High School||A||10|
|Casco Bay High School (Portland)||B||8|
|Deering High School (Portland)||D||6|
|Edward Little High School (Auburn)||C||7|
|Falmouth High School||A||10|
|Freeport High School||B||9|
|Lewiston High School||D||6|
|Portland High School||D||3|
|Waterville Senior High School||C||7|
|Yarmouth High School||A||10|
*Augusta is not ranked on Trulia
There is nothing arbitrary about the A-F grading system as opponents would like you to believe. As the DOE site explains, the letter grades are based on student achievement in reading and math for which tests are administered for a number of consecutive years (unlike science tests), the progress of student achievement, and then either the performance of the bottom 25 percent of students for elementary schools or the graduation rate for high schools.
Identifying the progress or lack thereof of the bottom 25 percent of students shows us which schools need greater attention and resources. Check out the DOE’s data warehouse to obtain an up-to-date understanding of how your school is doing.
Governor LePage’s budget allocates funding targeted to support low-performing schools identified through the A-F system. Just yesterday (the same day the Democrats unveiled a “plan” to develop an alternative plan), Commissioner Bowen announced the strategic outreach that will be catered toward improving and supporting Maine’s public schools, and includes communication by the end of this current academic year with each school that earned a D or an F.