GROTON -- In a presentation made at their meeting last week, the Groton-Dunstable Regional School Committee was apprised of the fact that the district's students continue to lead with academic achievements uniformly above the state average.

The news was given by teaching, learning and accountability director Kerry Clery who pointed out that across the board, students at Groton-Dunstable exceed their peers by percentiles in the double digits.

"Students performed significantly higher than the state average," confirmed Clery of the latest results in the district's MCAS scoring covering English and Mathematics.

The highest scores were made by elementary school students in English who exceeded the state average by a full 20 percent.

Not far behind were elementary math scores that topped the average by 19 percent.

Not to be outshone, middle school students exceeded the state average for mathematics by 19 percent and English by 14 percent.

High schoolers beat the average by 11 and 17 percent for English and math respectively.

Overall, Groton-Dunstable students exceeded the state average by 19 and 16 percent for math and English respectively.

In general however, the district's students showed little overall improvement as measured against their own past performances with scores for advanced, proficient, needs improvement, and failing all holding steady from 2009 through 2012.

Those failing in English averaged no more than 2-3 percent over the years and 4-5 percent for math.


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The latest testing showed a slight dip in math scores with 90.8 percent in 2012 and 91.5 the year before.

In English, the drop was even more infinitesimal with 94.3 for 2012 as compared with 94.5 in 2011.

The school's administration hopes that some of the pressure to meet the No Child Left Behind standards will be eased somewhat in coming years as the state's new curriculum standards take effect beginning this year.

According to Clery, the new standards' strategic goals include improving literacy for pre-kindergarten to third grade, improving math scores for fifth to eighth graders, improving teacher skills, and increasing concentration on college and career preparedness.

The latter goal was made more explicit in the plan's description for English language "key ideas" which begins with "an emphasis on college and career readiness beginning at birth."

Even to Clery, a statement declaring the state's intention of taking over the developmental lives of students from the womb to high school graduation, did not ring quite right.

"It sounds funny," Clery admitted before launching into an explanation of the new standards whose ultimate aim is intended to prepare students from the earliest grades for the working world.

Indeed, concentration of study seemed geared to the strictly factual with little room for creativity or learning for learning's sake.

For instance, in "forms of reading and writing," the balance between literary and informational reading grows more unequal as a student progresses until by the time they become seniors in high school, only 30 percent of reading is dedicated for literary purposes while 70 percent is geared to informational reading.

At the same time, by the twelfth year of high school, students are spending up to 80 percent of their time learning to "persuade" and "explain" as compared to writing intended to convey more experiential notions.

The final item listed under key ideas underscored the new emphasis placed on education by the state: "the ability to read progressively more complex text is key to college and career readiness."

Also at last week's meeting of the School Committee, members learned about progress being made in laying the groundwork for an upcoming superintendent search.

Committee member James Frey handed out a draft of a brochure that will be made available for potential candidates describing the school district and the requirements for anyone applying for the position.

According to a selection schedule printed on the brochure, the deadline for submission of applications will be Nov. 20 with preliminary interviews and selection of finalists to be had on Dec. 14.

The School Committee as a whole will then hold interviews of finalists in January with voting on who will be the next superintendent in February.

First day on the job for the new superintendent (who will replace interim superintendent Anthony Bent) is scheduled for July 1, 2013.