Cornville Regional Charter School has been selected as one of six elementary schools in Maine to participate in a pilot project to improve math proficiency in young students. The grant project through the Maine Department of Education is called the Numeracy4ME K-4 Mathematics Pilot Program and is designed to improve the mathematics achievement of students in kindergarten through grade four.

It comes with a $6,000 grant for staff professional development, said charter school principal and Executive Director Travis Works.

“I think that any time you can get professional development it is a big help for any school that gets the opportunity to participate,” Works said by phone Monday. “We’re excited for it. Any time you have resources to pay for professional development and help our staff grow as professionals, it is worth it.”

The pilot includes schools in two regions: Washington County and Franklin/Somerset County.

The other participating schools are Academy Hill in Wilton, Cherryfield Elementary School, G.D. Cushing School in Wilton, Indian Township School at the Passamaquoddy Indian Township reservation and Milbridge Elementary School.

Students will be supported by their teachers, who will be learning math-related instructional practices delivered by trained mathematics specialists, according to a Department of Education release. In addition, each school will be supported by a Maine Department of Education mathematics specialist coach.

Schools were selected based on mathematics achievement, defined by Maine Education Assessment proficiency rates in grades 3 and 4 and on economic need, defined by free and reduced lunch counts. About a dozen teachers are participating in the pilot program.

Works said 70 percent of Cornville Regional Charter School families are “economically disadvantaged or at the poverty level, or below” and 30 percent of students are enrolled in special education instruction, which is much higher than the state average.

The school recorded relatively low scores in MEA proficiency tests in math, partially due to the high number of special education students who took the test in the same grouping as all the other students.

“The scores are not as high as we would like them to be,” Works said of the MEA rates in math. “We don’t hyper-focus or over-focus on test preparation for our learners, and we’re also looking at the level of learners when they come in or when they’re with us. Some of those struggling learners, with 30 percent identified as special ed, does have a factor.

“When you have a small sample, the impact of a few learners can make a large difference to the grade levels. Five or six students can make a big difference on your overall scores for a grade level.”

So far there has been one teacher training session and three more are scheduled over the coming weeks, with three more workshop days in June, after school is out for the summer, Works said. Some of the learned “best practices” for math instruction already are in use in the classroom, he said.

“Next year our staff will continue using those strategies throughout the whole year,” Works said.

The Cornville Regional Charter School, which opened as Maine’s first elementary-level charter school in 2012, was given state approval by the Maine Charter Commission in December 2016 to add a charter high school and pre-kindergarten classes to its program. The school aims to be the first pre-K through grade 12 charter school in the state.

Enrollment as of this week is 131 at the Cornville campus, 44 in grade 9 at the high school in downtown Skowhegan and about 29 in the early learning center on South Factory Street in Skowhegan.

As a pilot project, the Numeracy4ME program is designed to study results of implementation and possibly extending the opportunity to other Maine schools in the future, according to the DOE. The resources available to support the project are limited to 25 teachers in each region.

The Numeracy4ME Pilot Project will run through June and, pending funding, will continue through July 2019.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.