GreatsSchools’ profile of Farwell Elementary School in Lewiston. The school receives an overall rating of 3. GreatSchools website

GreatSchools’ high school rankings are calculated based on three or four education metrics: test scores, academic growth, equity and college readiness. Schools receive scores in each of these categories based on how their data compares with the state average.

If sufficient data is not available for a subrating, it will not be calculated. Schools must have at least two subrating scores in order to receive an overall rating.

“We believe that transparency builds trust and that government education agencies have an obligation to make data on school quality available to parents and the public,” Orville Jackson, GreatSchools’ vice president for data strategy, wrote. “The absence of available data ultimately presents a disadvantage to the families and community members who deserve access to this information. That’s why, when data is not available, we continue to highlight the need for, and value of, transparency. We applaud Maine for its commitment to data transparency, especially with respect to sharing disaggregated data that allows families to understand how well schools are serving all students.”


GreatSchools uses state proficiency tests to measure how well students score in comparison to the state average. Test score ratings for Maine’s elementary and middle schools are based on 2019 results from the Maine Education Association.

For Maine schools, test scores make up roughly 30% of the overall GreatSchools rating for elementary schools and 40% for middle schools. Most high schools do not have enough test score information to calculate a test score rating.


Using school-level proficiency data, GreatSchools analyzes academic improvement in students from one grade to the next. Research shows that improvements in test scores, rather than the test scores themselves, are a strong indicator for the quality of a school’s education.


For Maine schools, academic progress scores make up roughly 40% of the overall GreatSchools rating for elementary schools. Most middle and high schools do not have enough information to calculate an academic progress rating. According to GreatSchools website, academic progress data is less commonly available for high schools because students only take standardized tests in one year.


GreatSchools’s website states that the equity rating is “designed to measure how well a school serves the academic development of disadvantaged students.”

In elementary and middle schools, this rating breaks down test scores, discipline and attendance data by race, socioeconomic status and whether or not the student has a disability. In high school, this section also includes graduation rates and advanced coursework participation.

For Maine schools, the equity rating makes up roughly 30% of the overall GreatSchools rating for elementary schools, 60% for middle schools and 50% for high schools.


The college readiness rating is “designed to measure how well high schools prepare their students for success in college and career, compared to other schools in the state,” according to GreatSchools.

Their analysts calculate college readiness scores using four-year graduation rates and AP or dual enrollment course participation rates. GreatSchools uses the top score for either AP or dual enrollment course participation in their calculations for Maine schools.

GreatSchools also includes data on the percent of graduates pursuing college immediately following high school and the percent of students who return to college for a second year for Maine high schools, however this data does not factor into their ratings, according to Jackson.

For Maine high schools, the college readiness rating makes up roughly 50% of the overall GreatSchools rating. Elementary and middle schools do not have college readiness ratings.

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