The Department of Education is preparing to release its annual report cards for schools across the state, but this year the grades will be based on additional data.

A year ago, the DOE released the report cards, which gave the majority of the schools in Regional School Unit 3 low marks. The district, according to data published by the state, received an “F” for students in grades 3-8 in the areas of math and reading proficiency. According to the data, the district did not make any gains in the areas of math and reading proficiency, math and reading growth or growth in the bottom 25 percent for math and reading.

The district received a “C” for students in grade 11, with the only gains being in the four-year and five-year graduation rates. There were decreases in math proficiency, math three-year average progress, reading proficiency and reading three-year average progress, according to the state data.

Individually, Monroe Elementary received a “C,” Morse Memorial received an “F,” Mount View Elementary received a “D,” Mount View Middle School received an “F,” Mount View High School received a “C,” Troy Elementary received an “F,” and Walker Memorial received a “D," according to previously published reports.

After the report cards were released, Superintendent Heather Perry and RSU 3 Board Chairman Phil Shibles criticized the results, citing a lack of more inclusive data that should take into account the socioeconomic factors in the district.

About 70 percent of the students in RSU 3 qualify for the free- and reduced-lunch program.

In a statement posted on the DOE’s website, Commissioner Jim Rier said the report cards for this year will be released late in the week of May 12. He noted while the report cards will still use the same formula for calculating the grades, the new report cards will include new data that previously was not assessed.

“This year in an effort to ensure data quality and grading system transparency, the Department has provided schools an opportunity to verify their data used to calculate their grades. Additionally, schools will be given their final report cards prior to them being made available to the public,” Rier said in the statement.

Also, due to the feedback the department received last year, data regarding student poverty rates, teacher experience and education levels have been added to each school’s report card, Rier stated. Those factors were included, Rier indicated, because of a report released earlier this year by the Maine Education Policy Research Institute that found in Maine, those factors were the most likely variables to impact student achievement.

The report cards will also include information related to funding, average daily attendance as an indicator of student engagement and school and district contact information.

“This year in an effort to ensure data quality and grading system transparency, the Department has provided schools an opportunity to verify their data used to calculate their grades. Additionally, schools will be given their final report cards prior to them being made available to the public,” Rier said.

Rier said he will also visit a number of schools around the state that have improved by at least one letter grade. At the same time, however, he acknowledges that some schools will be “discouraged” to see that their grade is the same as last year or has even dropped.

“School improvement doesn’t happen overnight, and I appreciate many schools will be discouraged to see their grade is the same or has dropped. I hope the stories of the schools I visit who have improved by one, two or even three letter grades will encourage those who didn’t see the gains they wanted to continue this hard yet important improvement work,” he said.