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THE BIG PICTURE

By the time students leave high school, they should be prepared for post-secondary education or a career. College and career readiness begins as early as Kindergarten: students who attend full-day Kindergarten are more equipped to master the skills needed in first grade and beyond. We look at student achievement at various checkpoints throughout the K-12 continuum, examining student proficiency and achievement gaps at 4th, 8th, and 11th grades.

The achievement gap refers to the difference in academic performance or educational attainment between groups of students, examined here by student socioeconomic status, gender, and race/ethnicity. Achievement gaps are caused by a number of complex factors and there are no simple solutions, however, closing them is imperative. Addressing gaps as early as possible will improve student performance throughout the educational pipeline and prepare students for future careers.

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Proficiency has largely stayed flat for most grades and subjects over recent years. Detailed information on the performance of Maine students and by subgroup are below.
  • Achievement gaps are especially large for students who are economically disadvantaged: they scored at least 23 points lower compared to non-economically disadvantaged students for all subjects and grade levels.
  • Note: We use the Maine Educational Assessments (MEA) to determine student proficiency in reading and math in 4th and 8th We use the SAT to determine student proficiency in high school. All Maine 11th graders take the SAT.

FULL DAY KINDERGARTEN

Nearly all districts offer full-day Kindergarten in Maine. Providing full-day Kindergarten is essential in closing the achievement gap, as students who attend full-day Kindergarten are more equipped to master the skills needed in first grade and beyond. All Kindergarteners are expected to master the same standards regardless of whether they attend full- or half-day sessions.

DISTRICTS OFFERING FULL-DAY KINDERGARTEN IN MAINE AND NEW ENGLAND (2017)

98%

MAINE

 
96%

NEW ENGLAND

 

4TH GRADE ACHIEVEMENT

Student achievement in school is assessed at large for the first time in 4th grade, allowing us to measure proficiency early in the education pipeline. This measurement is important as students’ proficiency in 4th grade is an indicator of students’ ability to graduate high school and graduate on time.

PERCENT OF 4TH GRADE STUDENTS SCORING AT OR ABOVE STATE EXPECTATIONS IN READING (2019)

56%56% ALL STUDENTS

56%

ALL STUDENTS

43%Economically Disadvantaged

43%

Economically Disadvantaged

67%Not Economically Disadvantaged

67%

Not Economically Disadvantaged

61%Female

61%

Female

52%Male

52%

Male

44%American Indian/Alaska Native

44%

American Indian/Alaska Native

77%Asian/Pacific Islander

77%

Asian/Pacific Islander

56%Black or African American

56%

Black or African American

54%Hispanic/Latino

54%

Hispanic/Latino

54%Two or More Races

54%

Two or More Races

58%White

58%

White

*English Learners excluded from race/ethnic student groups

PERCENT OF 4TH GRADE STUDENTS SCORING AT OR ABOVE STATE EXPECTATIONS IN MATH (2019)

41%ALL STUDENTS

41%

ALL STUDENTS

27%Economically Disadvantaged

27%

Economically Disadvantaged

52%Not Economically Disadvantaged

52%

Not Economically Disadvantaged

39%Female

39%

Female

42%Male

42%

Male

30%American Indian/Alaska Native

30%

American Indian/Alaska Native

65%Asian/Pacific Islander

65%

Asian/Pacific Islander

32%Black or African American

32%

Black or African American

54%Hispanic/Latino

54%

Hispanic/Latino

37%Two or More Races

37%

Two or More Races

42%White

42%

White

*English Learners excluded from race/ethnic student groups

8TH GRADE ACHIEVEMENT

Performance in eighth grade often indicates performance in high school and is one of the strongest predictors of post-secondary and work readiness. While early intervention is key in closing achievement gaps, making sure that gaps are addressed before high school is crucial in order to improve student graduation rates and proficiency at graduation.

PERCENT OF 8TH GRADE STUDENTS SCORING AT OR ABOVE STATE EXPECTATIONS IN READING (2019)

58%ALL STUDENTS

58%

ALL STUDENTS

44%Economically Disadvantaged

44%

Economically Disadvantaged

69%Not Economically Disadvantaged

69%

Not Economically Disadvantaged

67%Female

67%

Female

50%Male

50%

Male

35%American Indian/Alaska Native

35%

American Indian/Alaska Native

73%Asian/Pacific Islander

73%

Asian/Pacific Islander

55%Black or African American

55%

Black or African American

54%Hispanic/Latino

54%

Hispanic/Latino

58%Two or More Races

58%

Two or More Races

60%White

60%

White

*English Learners excluded from race/ethnic student groups

PERCENT OF 8TH GRADE STUDENTS SCORING AT OR ABOVE STATE EXPECTATIONS IN MATH (2019)

36%ALL STUDENTS

36%

ALL STUDENTS

22%Economically Disadvantaged

22%

Economically Disadvantaged

47%Not Economically Disadvantaged

47%

Not Economically Disadvantaged

38%Female

38%

Female

35%Male

35%

Male

22%American Indian/Alaska Native

22%

American Indian/Alaska Native

62%Asian/Pacific Islander

62%

Asian/Pacific Islander

23%Black or African American

23%

Black or African American

30%Hispanic/Latino

30%

Hispanic/Latino

32%Two or More Races

32%

Two or More Races

37%White

37%

White

*English Learners excluded from race/ethnic student groups

HIGH SCHOOL ACHIEVEMENT

Achievement in high school is measured by both the SAT and graduation rates. Maine has set lofty goals for high school proficiency in the coming years, particularly in math, to ensure students are prepared for postsecondary education and the workforce. It’s essential to address the needs and barriers to success for diverse student subgroups if we hope to close enduring gaps.

PERCENT OF 11TH GRADE STUDENTS SCORING AT OR ABOVE STATE EXPECTATIONS IN READING (2019)

56%ALL STUDENTS

56%

ALL STUDENTS

37%Economically Disadvantaged

37%

Economically Disadvantaged

66%Not Economically Disadvantaged

66%

Not Economically Disadvantaged

61%Female

61%

Female

51%Male

51%

Male

40%American Indian/Alaska Native

40%

American Indian/Alaska Native

66%Asian/Pacific Islander

66%

Asian/Pacific Islander

39%Black or African American

39%

Black or African American

50%Hispanic/Latino

50%

Hispanic/Latino

58%Two or More Races

58%

Two or More Races

58%White

58%

White

*English Learners excluded from race/ethnic student groups

PERCENT OF 11TH GRADE STUDENTS SCORING AT OR ABOVE STATE EXPECTATIONS IN MATH (2019)

33%ALL STUDENTS

33%

ALL STUDENTS

17%Economically Disadvantaged

17%

Economically Disadvantaged

41%Not Economically Disadvantaged

41%

Not Economically Disadvantaged

33%Female

33%

Female

33%Male

33%

Male

18%American Indian/Alaska Native

18%

American Indian/Alaska Native

64%Asian/Pacific Islander

64%

Asian/Pacific Islander

14%Black or African American

14%

Black or African American

29%Hispanic/Latino

29%

Hispanic/Latino

30%Two or More Races

30%

Two or More Races

34%White

34%

White

*English Learners excluded from race/ethnic student groups

MAINE 4-YEAR HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATES BY STUDENT GROUP (2019)

87%ALL STUDENTS

87%

ALL STUDENTS

79%Economically Disadvantaged

79%

Economically Disadvantaged

95%Not Economically Disadvantaged

95%

Not Economically Disadvantaged

90%Female

90%

Female

86%Male

86%

Male

79%American Indian/Alaska Native

79%

American Indian/Alaska Native

94%Asian/Pacific Islander

94%

Asian/Pacific Islander

80%Black or African American

80%

Black or African American

82%Hispanic/Latino

82%

Hispanic/Latino

82%Two or More Races

82%

Two or More Races

88%White

88%

White

LEARN MORE

 

Did you know?

  • By the time economically disadvantaged students enter Kindergarten, they are 12 to 14 months behind in language and pre-reading skills compared to their higher income peers.
  • Students who are not reading proficiently by 3rd grade (as indicated by 4th grade scores) are four times more likely to drop out than proficient readers. Early intervention is essential for ensuring students’ future success.
  • Maine’s 6-year high school graduation rate (89%) is 2 points higher than the 4-year rate (87%). Roughly 1,200 Maine adults in 2019 and about 840 in 2020 earned a high school diploma or High School Equivalency Test (HiSET) credential.

Dig Deeper

What Maine Communities are Doing

  • Count ME In is a Maine nonprofit working with schools across the state to tackle chronic absenteeism, which affects student outcomes such as proficiency and the graduation rate. Best practices to ensure students are engaged in school involve better data tracking to inform the development of targeted interventions and building whole-school efforts to create a culture of attendance as early as preschool and kindergarten.
  • Next STEP High is an alternative education model implemented by Lewiston High School and Tree Street Youth that is designed to reach students in Lewiston High School who are off-track to graduate. The model puts students at the center, focusing on an engaging, real-world curriculum and partnerships in the community that help students apply their learning to solve local problems while working toward their credit requirements. Students also receive holistic social-emotional supports.
  • JMG and Thomas College have partnered to offer a summer intensive college prep program focused on introducing high school students to the college environment. Over the course of two weeks, students take a college-level personal finance class and participate in academic support sessions and other activities that acquaint them with the college environment. Students earn three college credits that transfer to their future college of choice.
  • Financial Aid Nights are common in Maine: these are evenings where high school students and their families gather at school to fill out financial aid forms with support from advisors. Waldo County Technical Center takes this concept a step further and hosts an annual FAFSA Fiesta. All participants receive free financial aid support and free tacos!

Take Action

  • Achievement gaps are caused by a number of factors, including non-academic supports. Adequate school funding that accounts for a diversity of student needs is necessary to begin to address gaps in resources, opportunity, and achievement. Tell your legislator to advocate for state-funded school spending at 55%, which is mandated by law but the state has yet to reach.
  • Support organizations that provide academic and wraparound supports to students, such as afterschool programming. Connect with your local Boys and Girls Club, for example, to see about providing financial or mentoring support.
  • Sign on to become a member of the MaineSpark Coalition, a broad group of stakeholders working to help 60% of Maine people achieve a degree or credential of value by 2025.