BAR HARBOR — Students at Mount Desert Island High School last year scored higher on standardized tests than their peers around the state, but the tests also revealed areas of weakness.
The 11th-grade students who took the SAT tests last April had a mean score of 1,101. The mean score for high school juniors statewide was 992.
In the category of “evidence-based reading and writing,” MDI students had an average score of 559, compared to the statewide average of 504. Seventy-nine percent of the MDI students met the “college and career readiness” (CCR) benchmark in reading and writing.
MDI students also beat the state average in math, 542 to 489. But only 56 percent of them met the CCR benchmark.
Julie Keblinsky, the high school’s dean of curriculum, said she and others are looking at ways to improve the benchmark scores.
“Yeah, we want to do better than the state average, but really what we want is all kids meeting their benchmarks for college and career readiness,” she said.
She and Julie Meltzer, director of curriculum, assessment and instruction for the MDI Regional School System, presented the standardized test results to the high school board Nov. 14.
On the science portion of the SAT test last spring, MDI students did better than high school juniors in the state as a whole. And the percentage of MDI students who demonstrated proficiency in science rose from 57 percent in 2015 to 66 percent this past spring. Still, teachers and administrators would like that percentage to be higher, and they have refined the way science is taught.
“So, we expect to see higher scores in the future,” Meltzer said.
Particularly troubling were the science scores of the 21 MDI juniors who were classified as socioeconomically disadvantaged. None of them scored above state expectations; three met state expectations; nine scored below state expectations, and nine scored well below.
“We can see that we’ve got a big issue with making sure we’re closing that gap,” Meltzer said. “We’ve got a lot of support in place now, and we will be able to see whether or not that makes a difference.”
Ninth-grade students in Maine take standardized reading and math tests. The goal is for at least 75 percent of students to meet the “growth target” on both tests.
Fifty-four percent of MDI ninth graders met the growth target in 2016, up from 44 percent in 2015. But in math, the number meeting the growth target dropped from 66 percent to 52 percent.
Meltzer said she is pleased with the trend in reading.
“We have a ways to go, but we’re going in the right direction,” she said. “And with some of the supports we are putting in place, the reading lab and learning lab and the focus on close reading, …we’re hoping this gets stronger.”
Meltzer said the high school also is providing more support for students in math.
“We’ve put some different programs in place, and we really want to see whether that’s going to make a difference over time.”
Two bright spots for the high school have been the improvement in the four-year graduation rate over the past four years and a decline in the number of dropouts. The 2016 graduation rate was 87.6 percent, with 110 students graduating on time. There were 12 dropouts last year, down from 21 in the 2011-2012 school year.