AUGUSTA — The Farrington Elementary School principal, named a National Distinguished Principal of the year in 2013, resigned within two weeks of the disclosure that mathematics assessment results for 106 students there will be thrown out because of testing irregularities.

Lori Smail, of Winthrop, had been principal at Farrington on Eastern Avenue for four years. Before that, she spent two years as principal of Lincoln Elementary School on the west side of Augusta.

The school superintendent wrote recently in a letter to parents that two rooms where the tests were administered “inappropriately” contained math “reference sheets and posters.”

In a separate letter addressed to “Farrington Families,” Smail wrote that she plans to remain in education. Smail’s letter telling of her resignation is dated May 29. It says she resigned formally on May 12 to be effective at the end of the year.

However, she has not been at Farrington recently, and the school department already has posted the job opening. It says applications for the post must be submitted by June 12. Also, a public forum is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the school so people can talk about what they would like to see in a new principal.

Reached by cellphone Tuesday, Smail said, “I am incredibly proud of the work, the climate and the culture (change) that has taken place under my leadership over the last four years at Farrington, but I do not want to comment on the testing invalidation or my resignation. Unfortunately, they coincided.”


She added, “With regard to testing, the error that was made was unintentional.” She declined further comment.

Superintendent James Anastasio informed parents by letter on May 27 that the results of the Maine Educational Assessments for 212 mathematics tests taken by 106 students in third through sixth grade would be invalidated because of “unfair testing environmental advantages.” The tests were administered March 30 through May 15.

“It is with regret I must inform you that testing irregularities occurred at Farrington Elementary School,” he wrote. “Two testing rooms were inappropriately supplied with mathematic reference sheets and posters.”

The superintendent said the English and literacy results were not affected and would be reported to parents.

Anastasio indicated that his office had conducted an investigation at the request of the state education department.

The determination to invalidate the scores came from the department’s Assessment Division.


While his letter does not refer to Smail, a news story about Smail being named the state’s 2013 distinguished principal said the school was showing improvement in academic performance.

Farrington received a letter grade of “C” for the 2013 proficiency tests, which is the latest year available through the school department’s website. In mathematics, 57.3 students scored proficient or better and 67.3 percent of students scored proficient or better in reading.

Jaci Holmes, interim spokeswoman for the state Department of Education, said Wednesday that she was unaware of scores being invalidated at any other schools under similar circumstances.

“This situation at Farrington has been reviewed internally by the school department, and we are doing an internal review of it right now,” Holmes said. “We’ve had testing protocols that were reviewed by staff here and shared as protocols to be followed.”

She said the department’s decision was to invalidate the scores and not to have the students retake the mathematics portion.

“It will show lack of participation for those students in those math tests,” she said.


Holmes said the department was not involved in the principal’s resignation.

“That was a local decision,” she said.

Holmes said aggregate scores from the 2015 testing would be available in June with more detailed scores out in late August or early September.

Anastasio, who was dealing with a bomb threat Tuesday at Cony High School that forced an early dismissal and a closing of the school until Wednesday morning, did not immediately return a call or email for comment on the Farrington situation.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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