On our district website, the introduction to Yarmouth Schools states that, “Highly qualified staff, motivated students, and engaged parents are our greatest resources.” That statement is proven true time and time again as we consider the excellence that we find in our schools. In 2014, Yarmouth High School and Harrison Middle School were once again named Apple Distinguished Schools, and visitors from Maryland, Finland, and Sweden visited the schools to see our teachers and students putting instructional technology to work. Yarmouth High School also received recognition from the College Board, being named to its Honor Roll for increasing the number of students participating in the rigorous Advanced Placement program while also increasing the median performance on AP exams. Yarmouth Elementary School joined the Middle School and High School in being recognized for academic excellence by Maine’s Department of Education, and it can easily be assumed that Rowe School would also be on that list if the state had measures that were taken at the kindergarten or first grade level.
Yarmouth students continue to excel in areas outside of the classroom, as well. Approximately 80% of Yarmouth High School students participate in co-curricular activities and athletics, and in the past year alone our athletic programs have garnered state championships in Girls’ Lacrosse, Girls’ Cross Country, Girls’ Skiing, Softball, and Boys’ Soccer, with many other teams demonstrating a similarly impressive balance of competitiveness and sportsmanship. Meanwhile, the theater and performing arts program continued its impressive run of state championships in the One Act Play competition and thrilled audiences, as usual, with impressive dramatic and musical performances.
Yarmouth students serve their neighbors, too, with thousands of hours of community service work being completed by individual students and many school clubs. Clearly, the Yarmouth Schools are comprised of people who care about the present and the future, and we are fortunate to have many talented and dedicated educators, community members, and students in our midst.
Enrollment and Demographics
As the 2015 school year began the Yarmouth School Department enrolled 1,579 students. As few as seven years ago (2008) there were fewer than 1400 students enrolled in Yarmouth Schools.
Of the 1,579 students enrolled at the start of this school year, 1,467 (92.9%) were Caucasian. Forty-three students identify themselves as Asian/Pacific Islander (2.7%), twenty are African-American (1.2%), thirteen are Hispanic (0.82%), and the remaining students (2.3%) are of various ethnicity. We are actually slightly more diverse than Maine as a state, where 95.2% of residents are Caucasian (data retrieved from the U.S. Census Bureau).
In 2013-2014, 44.8% of students attending Maine public schools in Kindergarten through Grade 12 were eligible for the federal Free and Reduced Price Lunch program (FRPL). Those numbers were significantly lower in Yarmouth, as shown in Table 1 (data retrieved from the Maine Department of Education, MDOE). Historically, the percent of students qualifying for FRPL were even lower, but a small shift in demographics seems to be occurring locally, and we are seeing an increasing number of eligible students enrolling in Yarmouth schools.
In 2015-2016, we employ 153 teachers, 93 support staff, and 12 administrators. Much like the rest of Maine, the average years of experience for our teaching staff has been rising steadily for the past ten years. Last year, 70% of our instructional staff had a minimum of a master’s degree, as opposed to a statewide average of approximately 45% (MDOE).
· Yarmouth High School Graduation rate of 96%
· 91% of students in YHS class of 2014 attended two or four year college or university
· Yarmouth High School ranked #1 high school in Maine by U.S. News and World Report in 2015
· State champions in Girls’ Volleyball, Boys’ Soccer, Girls’ Skiing, Girls’ Lacrosse, Softball, and the One-Act Drama Festival
· Yarmouth High School and Harrison Middle School named Apple Distinguished Schools
The Federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires that all public school students in grades 3 through 8 and 11 participate in standardized testing each year. For approximately two decades testing for Maine students consisted of the Maine Educational Assessment (MEA). Approximately eight years ago, the test for students in grade 11 was changed to the SAT for mathematics and reading, with a supplementary science test added to the assessment to provide data on student understanding in that subject matter. The state now refers to the SAT and science supplement as the Maine High School Assessment (MHSA). In 2009, the assessment for students in grades 3-8 changed to the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP), allowing for performance comparisons between students in Maine and those in Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Vermont. In the coming year, all grade levels will be assessed using the Smarter Balanced Assessment, with both the MHSA and the NECAP falling by the wayside.
Regardless of the “test du jour” of this ever-evolving assessment landscape, Yarmouth schools and students have performed significantly better than the state average and have often produced the highest scores of any non-magnet, public school district in the state. This is no small accomplishment, as Maine students as a whole out-perform those in most other states. In 2013, Maine 4th graders and 8th graders scored among the top 15 states in math and among the top 20 in reading on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). Maine is also one of the states identified as scoring higher than the average of 47 countries or subnational education systems that participated in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). This is encouraging news, yet Maine schools – and Yarmouth schools in particular – are constantly seeking ways to improve, using data from a wide variety of sources to guide our decision-making processes. In this report we present two sources of data – state and federal accountability programs – that are used to measure our schools’ effectiveness.
Maine School Report Cards
In 2013, Maine started the practice of assigning letter grades to each school participating in the federal assessment program. In this system, schools receive scores based on several factors, including the number of students reaching proficiency, the collective growth of individual students, the growth among students who scored in the bottom 25% in the previous year, or – for high schools – the graduation rate. In Table 2, below, you will find a summary of the Maine School Report Card grades for each of our schools participating in the federal assessment program. Please be reminded that Rowe School did not receive a grade because there is no grade level in the school participating in the federal assessment program. We know from other indicators – such as the performance of students who move from Rowe School to Yarmouth Elementary School – that our primary school also performs at a high level.
Beyond High School
Just over 90% of YHS graduates enroll in college in the fall after high school (National Student Clearinghouse), and nearly 70% earn a degree within six years of graduation from YHS. The statewide college-going rate is 62%, while the rest of Cumberland County is 70%. The college completion rate for Maine is 56%, and for Cumberland County, 60%. In 2014, YHS graduates were accepted at schools from Canada to California, including a mix of public, private, technical, and liberal arts colleges.
Yarmouth schools offer educational programming for students in Kindergarten through Grade 12. We do not offer pre-school. Our K-8 offerings and settings are traditional in nature, though we have infused a great deal of technology into the classroom, with 1:1 computing devices for students in grades 3-12. Visual and performing arts are a mainstay of K-8 offerings as well.
At Yarmouth High School, students may enroll in College-Preparatory or Advanced Placement offerings. With 15 course offerings in 2014-2015, YHS has one of the more extensive AP programs in Maine. Students interested in vocational education attend Portland Arts and Technology High School for a portion of their high school years, and the school provides a range of offerings through the University of Southern Maine early college option and the Virtual High School.
Co-curricular offerings at Harrison Middle School and Yarmouth High School are many and varied. More than 20 clubs and activities are currently in operation at Yarmouth High School, including competitive groups such as the Math Team and Debate Team, to performance groups such as Playmakers and Jazz Band.
Athletically, the High School offers more than 25 varsity teams, with just under 50% of both male and female student participating each season. The Middle School offers just under 20 teams. It has been estimated that as many as 80% of our students participate in an interscholastic athletic activity in middle school or high school.
Success in the co-curricular and interscholastic programs has been plentiful. Aside from the high rate of participation, consistently high finishes by music, art, and athletic programs has resulted in many regional and state championships in the past ten years.
The Yarmouth School Department enjoys the support of the community. Over the past few years, school budgets have become exceedingly difficult to predict, with General Purpose Aid (GPA) from the state falling well short of the 55% mandated by LD1, and frequent curtailments further reducing the state’s commitment to local schools. GPA is largely driven by two factors; enrollment and state equalized valuation (SEV). While enrollment is directly related to GPA (as enrollment rises, so does the factor for determining our GPA), SEV is inversely related (as SEV rises, the factor for determining GPA is reduced).
In Yarmouth, an interesting dichotomy has been at work, driving our state aid up and reducing the local commitment to the budget. Enrollment has been increasing, while the SEV for the town has been decreasing, both of which cause an uptick in our GPA. The result is that, while many communities in Maine have suffered from diminishing state support, Yarmouth’s GPA has bounced back from a 9-year low of $1.1M in 2011 to an all-time high of $3.4M this year.
The result is that the local contribution to education has fallen from 90% of our budget in 2013 to 84% of the budget for 2015, and the local contribution per pupil is the lowest it has been in seven years. At $11,953 per pupil, this represents an increase of $780 per pupil since 2007, an average increase of less than 9/10 of one percent per year.
The town has made significant investments in school facilities in the past twenty-two years, placing the district in good shape for the foreseeable future with only increased enrollment challenging its current status. In 2003, the district opened an all-new Rowe School, an expanded and updated Yarmouth Elementary School, and a completely renovated Yarmouth High School - including a new athletic complex with artificial turf. None of these facilities have significant needs beyond normal maintenance schedules.
Harrison Middle School includes two portable classrooms that were added shortly after the school opened in 1992. The main plant will be in need of a new roof within the next five years. This school is facing capacity challenges, with some classes (foreign language) now being taught “on a cart”.
The district has converted all schools to a dual-fuel system, allowing for a reduction in operating costs and the more environmentally-friendly use of natural gas.
The district offices are housed in a stand-alone building that remains in very good condition.
Mission and Core Values Statements
In 2015, the school department rededicated itself to the following Mission: “Empowering All Students to Create Fulfilling Lives in a Changing World”
At the same time, a list of Core Values and Beliefs About Learning were adopted:
Ø when positive relationships form the foundation for learning;
Ø when students engage in high-level learning and access appropriate support;
Ø when students have an active role in their learning and in the school community;
Ø in a culture of collaboration;
Ø when students and teachers extend their learning beyond the school;
Ø in an environment of critical thinking, creativity, and innovation;
Ø when students and staff are emotionally and physically safe.
Ø Communicate effectively;
Ø Exhibit personal responsibility, civic engagement, and global awareness;
Ø Work independently and collaboratively;
Ø Demonstrate critical, creative, and innovative thinking;
Ø Develop understanding through inquiry, research, and synthesis.