May 23, 2013

Waterville, Winslow schools' rankings by national magazine better than state's grades

US News & World Report uses different criterion, focus than state's A-through-F system

By Amy Calder
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Waterville Senior High School teacher Tom Creeley leads an English class on Wednesday. Waterville and Winslow high schools are among the best in the state, according to a report released by U.S. News & World Report magazine.

Staff photo by David Leaming


To see the schools selected from Maine, go to

To view the criteria U.S. News & World Report used to select schools, go to

For 2013 Maine School Performance Grading System report, issued by Maine Department of Education:

Further data on Maine schools, issued by Maine DOE:


Waterville Senior High School, ranked 1,963 nationally

Winslow High School, ranked 1,983 nationally

Student-Teacher Ratios

Waterville: 13:1

Winslow: 11:1

statwide average: 12:1

College readiness: Percentage of students who tested, passed college-level courses

Waterville: 24 percent tested, 17 percent passed

Winslow: 20 percent tested, 18 percent passed

Math performance on SAT exam:

Waterville: 49 percent proficient, 51 percent not proficient

Winslow: 53 percent proficient, 47 percent not proficient

Reading performance based on SAT exam:

Waterville: 48 percent proficient, 52 percent not proficient

Winslow: 57 percent proficient, 43 percent not proficient

Fifty-four percent of Waterville high's students are eligible for the federal free and reduced lunch program; between 35 and 37 percent of Winslow high's student are eligible for free and reduced lunch.


Warren said the intent of the state's rankings was to engage the public and schools in conversations about how to improve.

"We've been very clear that this does not tell the entire story of the schools it's a snapshot," Warren said.

She emphasized that C is the state's average ranking for schools.

"To be clear, a C is not a bad grade," she said.

Haley agreed the state report was nothing new to the schools.

But the magazine rank is evidence that what the schools are focusing on is working.

Waterville school officials realize that scores in reading are lower than they should be and they are always working on strategies for improving reading proficiency, Haley said.

To have Waterville and Winslow neck-and-neck with more affluent schools speaks highly of the work being done, he said.

"This isn't just high school stuff; we've really got to remember this is all of our schools getting these kids ready for high school."

Waterville Senior High School Principal Don Reiter said that, given the negative publicity schools and teachers have been getting lately, the magazine's report is a "nice validation for the teachers and students in the schools."

And Winslow High School Principal Doug Carville said he believes the U.S. News & World Report ranking reflects the hard work Winslow schools are doing and the fact that they pay attention to what students need to succeed.

"Everybody's paying attention to things that need to be done to address the needs of all students and keeping eyes open to the future, to know the kinds of things that we may be able to get involved in," Carville said.

Carville, who is retiring at the end of the school year after nine years as principal, said the key is recognizing that schools must "meet all students where they are and provide for their needs."

Haley said that, considering the lower socioeconomic backgrounds of many Waterville school students, a part of him asks why the high school is not an A school. He called himself a "big fan of value-addedness," or what schools do help students learn and achieve as they go from lower to higher grades.

About 12 years ago, the Department of Education picked Waterville Senior High School as one of 12 Maine high schools that performed better than expected, given their demographics, Haley said. He was the school principal then and was invited to the governor's residence to be recognized.

Carville said Winslow also looks at new ways of doing things. A 5-year grant from MELMAC Education Foundation, for instance, allows Winslow to have a college and career specialist on hand in the high school, and that will reap benefits for students, he said.

He emphasized that the goal of schools is to help produce life-long learners who are productive.

Amy Calder 861-9247


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