Harpswell Community School ranks 10th in U.S. News & World Report’s first analysis of Maine elementary schools, with a score of 95.54 out of 100.
Of the 137 students at the K-5 school on Great Island, 62% scored at or above the proficient level for math and 72% for reading — well above the statewide numbers of 36% and 55%, respectively. The school has a student-teacher ratio of 12-to-1.
The analysis notes that 55% of Harpswell Community students are female and 45% male, 34% of students are “economically disadvantaged” and 3.6% belong to minority groups.
The top elementary school in Maine is Bangor’s Fruit Street School.
U.S. News & World Report bases half of its score on state assessments and the other half on those assessments “in the context of socioeconomic demographics.”
“In other words, the top-ranked schools are all high achieving and have succeeded at educating all their students,” the publication states.
Maine School Administrative District 75 interim Superintendent Bob Lucy read a report from Harpswell Community School announcing the ranking during a meeting of the MSAD 75 Board of Directors on Nov. 18. U.S. News & World Report published the rankings in October.
Harpswell Community School Principal Anita Hopkins said that U.S. News & World Report based its rankings on data from 2018, before the pandemic, and that test scores do not provide a complete picture of a school. Those qualifications notwithstanding, the school is celebrating the recognition.
“It’s a small school with really, really dedicated staff,” said Hopkins, who is in her fourth year as principal. “Every teacher here feels a responsibility to every child. They know the kids really well and what works for each child.”
The school prioritizes students’ social and emotional well-being, especially during the pandemic. “Kids can’t learn until they feel safe,” Hopkins said.
At a time fraught with challenges, “It was really nice to have that positive news,” Hopkins said. The teachers “really are doing a great job and I think now more than ever they really needed to hear that,” she added.