Math proficiency drops at Brunswick elementary school

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BRUNSWICK — The number of elementary school students who have fallen behind in math proficiency increased this year, School Department data shows.

At the Aug. 12 meeting of the School Board, Superintendent Paul Perzanoski said that despite a plan for more in-classroom support implemented last year at Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School, the number of students who scored one year or more below grade level in math proficiency increased.

According to Perzanoski, 23 second-graders, 20 third-graders, 15 fourth-graders, and 28 fifth-graders fell behind in math.

Raw data was not made available to The Forecaster, but Perzanoski said the numbers are “definitely higher.”

Proficiency is determined and monitored by online assessments, according to the school’s academic improvement plan.

Board member Sarah Singer asked Perzanoski if the increased number of students testing behind in math had any connection to the growing number of economically disadvantaged students in town.

The percentage of students eligible for free and reduced lunches at HBS increased from 35.7 percent in school year 2013-14 to 39.9 percent last year, according to state data.

Perzanoski said although “a good portion of the (students)” fall into this category, “there are other variables as well.”

He cited changing demographics in town, a new math curriculum, and scheduling shifts as factors that could have also attributed to the drop.

“As we go through this process we will evaluate … (those variables) for you,” he said. “The most important thing is (the students) get the services they need.”

Perzanoski requested just under $19,000 to increase the hours of math support teachers. The funds would allow staff to provide an additional half-hour of instruction during the day for students identified as needing intervention.

He said school administration identified a surplus created from hiring younger teachers at a lower pay-rate to cover the increased expense.

The School Board unanimously authorized reallocation of funds to the HBS academic improvement plan.

According to the school’s academic improvement plan, students scoring in the bottom 25th percentile of the test “probes,” which are given every three weeks, will receive 20- to 30-minute support sessions at least three times a week.

Those scoring in the bottom 10th percentile will receive daily “pull-out service” in addition to the regular math block, for a minimum of 30 minutes per session. A referral to special education will also be considered.

The revised plan will ensure “all students at Harriet Beecher Stowe get support regardless of where they are in their levels,” Perzanoski said.

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School in Brunswick.

Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.