Get rid of the Standards/Proficiency Grading at Katahdin

“It’s hard for a parent to hear, ‘Give me a year or two and I’ll fix that — their kid does not have a ‘year or two”” ~from Standards Based, A Maine Case Study 

  Parents want what works; what is best for their children, and, the “best and wisest” take their responsibility to demand such of policymakers to heart.  …time for a Hippocratic Oath for School Boards and Superintendents; “First, do no harm….”.  Please welcome our most popular author, cent7.  …and brace yourself, WordPress — the stats are about to go off the charts!  8723102_origThis year at Katahdin the freshmen were subjected to the new Standards Based Proficiency grading system.  They were totally unprepared to implement this system of grading, which makes me wonder why they bothered to start this when they did not have to.  Confidence in administration is already low, but this is not right to make guinea pigs out of the freshman class.  When you are unprepared to answer parents questions about grading, honor parts, and honor roll, common sense would dictate you are not ready.  Three different report cards, one which was 42 pages.  What can you say about that, crazy right!  It just furthers the belief that there is such a disconnect between administration and parents.  Administration can apply for an extension so they can be adequately prepared to implement this grading system.  This is a no brainer, figure out what you are doing so that kids are not guinea pigs for what could be another educational fad.  Show people you care about kids and do what’s best for them.  Go back to high expectations and grades.

14 responses to “Get rid of the Standards/Proficiency Grading at Katahdin

  1. Oh, when my husband opened up the Pioneer and remarked on the absence of freshmen on the Honor Roll….. How many others assumed that none of them distinguished themselves to be worthy of that recognition? (Sigh)


  2. Every time I read this site I try to be open minded and try to look at both sides of everyone’s opinion before I judge for myself. As a taxpayer and parent, I find this site to be one sided with a lot of reference to the way things should not be. I for one feel that I have been successful in my life as well as my wife. We both graduated and continued on for college educations and have found work in our fields. This has allowed us to stay in a “small” community and let our kids experience the same things we did. With that said, our community is a lot smaller than even 20 years ago. We had more programs (academic and athletic). We had varsity teams and junior varsity teams. We’ve lost industries, we’ve lost marketability of the natural resources we have in this area. Point is, a community can’t be self sufficient without any backing of industry or marketable natural resources. History has proven that. We have to make due with what we have available for a tax base. All our towns combined cannot support the budget and something needs to be done and you can’t always point fingers but need to head in a direction that makes sense. The public spoke during the last vote because they know something needs to be done that makes economic sense. You keep discussing classroom sizes and that consolidating our schools will make our classes too big. A class size of 30-40 kids is not unreasonable. Furthermore, we are starting to see our schools not being able to sustain sports teams. Not to say sports are everything but our community prides itself with the accomplishments we’ve had through the years. One last thing is that I’ve spent time with my kids doing homework and I am happy with the level of education they are receiving and I truly believe an increase in student numbers will not affect that. Look at the news this week and see the closing of the Monticello school. Rumor has it other small schools are not far behind. The pace of inflation, costs of energy, insurances, upgrade of union and non union contracts outpaces what the public is willing to accept as an increase in budget. It’s not that anybody is trying to screw anybody. It’s just economics 101. If you want your children to be educated in a one room schoolhouse then by all means have at it and maybe start a charter school. I on the other hand would rather be proactive and help steer the ship we have in a direction that although may have some misfortunes ultimately will be the best alternative for my children. Let’s loose the “it’s my tax money-my say” mentality and make our tax money work best for the children!


    • Welcome to the discussion. You illuminate, very well actually, a “debate on the ‘undebateable'” that is long overdue.

      Thank you for sharing some of your background with us. I appreciate that, and, so, will share a bit of mine. I worked in Economic and Community Development before becoming a full-time homemaker, and came to the issue of school consolidation in 2004, before our oldest began school — with a very open mind; determined to follow the research wherever it led. Our Elementary school was targeted for closure, and I wanted to know what would be best for kids. At the time we knew we would have to travel for opportunity to an extent. (I currently drive our children to Ellsworth each week for orchestra and music lessons, and we have asked our own Superintendent if she would consider sending Benedicta’s children to Houlton — IF travel is unavoidable.) if anything, I would have been inclined to believe as you do, but, again, kept a very open mind. I came to my current position on a wave of research so definitive as to appear “one sided” to some. “Timbered Classrooms” was created to serve a number of purposes; though there are some opinion pieces, to be sure, much of the site is a repository for the body of research surrounding school consolidation to inform the debate. I would encourage you open your mind a bit more, and review the research for yourself, on this site and elsewhere. Our entire compilation can be found by clicking the “school consolidation” topic at the top of our homepage.

      Back to the “undebateable”: I support small local schools for the very same reasons that you support consolidation — because small local schools are more cost-effective for communities and better for kids. I know I am asking you to suspend disbelief, here, but much of what you take as a given; from “economics 101” has been soundly disproven by the empirical research. For example, the rich curriculum you enjoyed is not necessarily a virtue of your larger size at the time. “Even the smallest schools (100-200 students) are able to offer core curricula comparable to schools of more than 1,200.” ~from “Jack and the Giant School Laws of economics differ from those of physics, or nature — they can be broken, and schoolchildren do just that. We need to insist that consolidation proponents cite research, but people who believe they already know won’t demand proof. Even when faced with irrefutable evidence, people inexplicably double-down on their debunked beliefs. That is what makes this so difficult. The administration does not need to prove its case, and doesn’t. We do, and people ignore us, or lash out. There is even research on this! “Few aspects of education have been more thoroughly researched than school size; few findings have been more consistent; and few have been more consistently ignored….” from “Size Matters”

      Speaking of research, class sizes of 30-40 is educationally unsound in a school of any size, especially for populations of kids struggling with the ravages of society without the familial support they need. Education is a very human endeavor, and occurs in the relationship between teacher and student. Maintaining small class sizes costs FAR less than bussing, building adding layers of bureaucracy and removing community support, and, more importantly, gives us the most bang for the buck. Trying to turn that natural advantage; the most cost-effective and essential element of education, into cash with a promise to, somehow return it to kids later is unwise. I attended the meeting where Mrs. Nevers referenced Wiscasset, and reported class sizes of 30. I checked. Wiscasset has a much lower teacher/student ratio than we do, and it appears that they have more robust social support services.

      If I may speak to the Monticello school for a moment; one of the top 10 in the state. Small schools do not die a natural death, but are killed. Rather than herald “savings” these actions represent a shift in investment from Monticello to Houlton at great cost to kids and taxpayers alike. Gov. Baldacci’s intent behind the RSU model, that wiped out school boards, was to allow more powerful schools in the district to close the smaller ones because they want the money/investment ininfrastructure/economic development potential. Ultimately, rural Maine would educate its children in large, central campus to which children are bussed, hub and spoke fashion — the research be damned. Houlton will now need renovations, extra staff….

      Though there are those who act in good faith, consolidations are never about kids, but money — not savings, mind you, but who gets it. Though I understand the reason our administration and Board will not admit to trying to “steer the ship” toward consolidation at all, I do not respect it. If it is such a sound, research-based idea, and not simply an attempt to shift investment from some communities in the district to others. The fact is, Katahdin and SACS are both worthy of investment. Those “misfortunes” you mention, are children, and you don’t sacrifice a single one of them to benefit others. Decisions made at the child’s level have shown to be more cost-efficient and effective.

      I do favor consolidation of administrative offices — any mutually beneficial sharing, and have written a bit about that. I wholeheartedly favor sharing; working together, but keep separate budgets to better tailor them to your students’ needs and separate school boards.

      I don’t want to end this without reference to a very important function of this site, and that is reflection of community views. I wanted a place where everyone could participate in the discussion, whatever their views. Our guest authors, polls and comments section are very instructive, and all opinions are welcome here. As we are talking about our children here, emotions understandably run high. Our readers (who include educations, active and retired, superintendents, board members, businesspeople…) want optimal investment of their tax dollars in kids, as the research and high-performing small schools demonstrate. They well understand the strategies underway to render Katahdin inviable, and know how they hurt kids. They want their tax dollars and children in their community because of what the research says, and not out of some dewy-eyed sentimentality. You mention energy? In this day and age of internet, it is bussing that is expensive and archaic; not the “one room schoolhouse”. Please try and understand the anger; look past it at what people are trying to tell you.

      Believe me, my life would be a lot easier if you were correct in your assumptions! Our oldest is 13, and I have spent much of his school life fighting off people, to borrow a phrase from Superintendent Larry Malone, “..looking in his classroom windows” and wanting that modest amount of money to be “spent elsewhere” (to borrow a term from former Commissioner Susan Gendron).

      I would encourage you to speak to our Representatives, Senator Roger Sherman and Representative Rick Long, as they are well-versed in this issue, and can speak to more cost and child effective alternatives and the State’s role as well. I hope you continue to read our site, and contribute to the discussion. By all means, we welcome research that supports your claims, because, as I hope you will understand from the research, our readers are unlikely to take them at face value.



  3. You no that kind of thinking will get you every where,,,,,,NOT,,,to set there and say the things that said is very disrespectful to every hard working person on this site and every where. Our retirees that want to be comfortable in there Golding years. The statements are rate out of it, ONE ROOM CLASS ROOMS,,,, are you rate out of it. Just hearing your words, leaves me to believe your a SHIT DISTURBER. Not a real tax paying, concern parent, or a loyal member of the community. [ meaning what is best for every body,,,, not just yourself. When you make that kind of statement,,,,,,,Leave your name,,,,,, do not hide behind this site. They started not to have these different actives,, starting with DOE. Not useing the money for our teachers or kids,,,,,, but for them. Now i am going to do what you can not do,,,,,,,,,,,,,My name is JERRY TAPLEY

    Liked by 1 person

  4. INSURANCE, INSURANCE,, OBAMA CARE, Have them pick up the TAB. Every company down south is doing it,, Jump on the big train. Besides isn’t that where standard grading come from. Down south.So i see it is all right to start our kids on it,,,,,,, but not insurance. Whats wrong, is it going to affect you.


  5. Ya, he will need $109,000 a year just to pay the deductible.


  6. concernedparentalso

    You say that you went on to collage, you and your wife. Did you have to take 2 more maths. You do now,, IF you did, what a waste of time and money, If you did not, see the difference. Thats what i am talking about. Kids not getting what they need up here.


  7. little bridge

    yep, he is one of them.


  8. This is the second time you have knock on your own door. Got a saying for ya,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, A FOOL AND HIS MONEY WELL SOON BE PARTED.


  9. I new you watched this site all the time. JT
    thats cool


    • Ving74 Are you an administrator’s spouse?! Are children in the elementary or high school? Cause if you don’t have children in the middle or high school you don’t know what you are talking about. Where is your research!


  10. Very well said Lisa. One great thing about this site is the open discussion. That is not we have had with administration or a fair amount of the school board members (actually most of them). They do not want to communicate with us, they want to push their agenda forward and students, parents, community members just sit back take it and give them the money. When people speak up they feel like they are not listened to or their kids will be picked on. The head of the board comes across condescending and rude, so it is hard to want to speak at meetings. This discussion is helpful to see that there are other people out there frustrated with how poorly our school is managed and the decline in our kids education at KMHS. Parents want a say in their kids education. Let’s work to withdraw from RSU 50 and go back to MSAD 25. Oh and the cuts to the budget do not mean anything, it is still $9,553,947.00. An increase of 2.28%. No cuts to administration. Surprise surprise. Spending way more to educate and far less benefits to our kids.


    • Thank you.

      I, for one, am grateful that ving74 admitted that there are elements trying to “steer the ship” toward consolidation. It’s long past time the Administration and Board do the same. IF it’s such a wonderful idea, then own it and make the case as ving 74, though way short on research/facts, tried to do. Let’s have a real debate.

      People are reluctant to speak up for good reason, and that’s why our site is here — for them to do so safely whether they stand with me or ving74.

      I wholeheartedly support withdrawal, but let’s not stop there. I hope you will join me in urging the Board to take Katahdin’s closure “off the table”. (Well, closure of any facilities, but we know that SACS was never ON the table.) The Board could create and empower separate school committees and govern in a way that functions as an AOS right now — before withdrawal is complete.

      I am not surprised that there are no cuts to administration. Greg Ryan said, “Everyone wants to cut administration but you really can’t” …of course without proof! Phil Knowles said, “If you cut administration, kids ‘r going to start losin’ services real quick” ..again, no examples of what these services are, or proof. They are WAY over EPS levels on administration, for strategic reasons and not kids.

      Greg also said, “Let’s show ’em how much it costs to run this place and it’ll force…” Then he stopped himself. “Force” Katahdin’s closure! He can “show” what he likes, but our readers will not believe him.


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