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Education Commissioner Releases School Achievement Data 

Earlier this month, the Maine Department of Education released a list of ten schools eligible to apply for a share of 12-million dollars in federal improvement grants.The department identified the schools using a specific set of federal criteria, including student achievement in math and reading and the school’s progress over the past three years.According to the government criteria, the ten schools are considered persistently low-achieving. They are eligible for the grant money only if they adopt one of several aggressive turnaround plans, such as removing the principal.Many school officials and local communities are taking issue with the criteria used and turnaround plans offered.Tuesday, Education Commissioner Susan Gendron made public the complete set of data on school achievement and progress for all the schools they reviewed.She says what’s important is not where schools rank, but what they can do to improve their performance. “I would agree that producing the list in this way is not the best. We didn’t have any choice. The federal government told us, this is what you must do,” Gendron says. “What this grant has done is draw attention to what’s happening in some of our schools. It forces us to look at, what does our data tell us? Are we making progress?”Gendron says two of the ten schools on the list have already decided not to apply for the funds. The rest have until Friday to decide.To see the data on all schools the department reviewed, you can log onto maine.gov/education/progress.