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Informational Letter #   17

Policy Code:   IL

 

To:                  Superintendents, Principals, School Board Chairs, Deans of the Colleges of Education

 

From:              J. Duke Albanese, Commissioner

 

Date:               September 6, 2000

 

Subject:          Comprehensive Assessment System Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) Recommendations and Follow-up Measures

 

            The 1996 legislation enacting the Learning Results established that student achievement should be assessed using a combination of state and local measures.  Subsequent policy guidance, including a statement of broad purposes of a comprehensive assessment system, was developed by the Assessment Design Team in 1997.  Continuing analysis of assessment-related issues for Maine schools is provided by both the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and the Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) of the Comprehensive Assessment System.  Both committees have engaged in highly productive work over the past year that has the potential to inform state and local actions for years to come.  The primary purpose of this letter is to update you on a series of recommendations forwarded to me at the end of PAC’s first year of discussions.


            Based on a review of the Learning Results statute, the Assessment Design Team report, and the combined experiences of PAC members, the committee articulated early in its work a set of beliefs about assessment that guided the committee’s work for the remainder of the year.  Several key areas of belief involve the state and local partnership in developing the comprehensive assessment system, the appropriate balance of state and local assessment measures, and the importance of building local capacity in developing and using assessments.  PAC’s recommendations around current and emerging policy issues connect closely to these belief areas:

§         PAC recommends that the MEA not be expanded beyond its current scope.  Assessments in the content areas not currently represented on the MEA would—according to PAC’s recommendation— be developed by the state, administered and scored at the local level, and aggregated and reported by the state.

§         PAC also recommends that an extensive Request for Proposals (RFP) be developed and funded, under which two categories of work would be conducted:  development, dissemination, and technical assistance in the application of models for local assessment systems (including samples of various assessment types in all eight content areas); and development and training in the use of assessments in the content areas not currently on the MEA.  This development

work must be preceded by clarifying the necessary elements of a local assessment system, and determining the necessary and sufficient evidence required to certify achievement of the Learning Results for an individual student. 

 

These recommendations will be addressed in the comprehensive review of all Learning Results implementation policy that is currently underway and which will culminate in an omnibus bill to be submitted in the upcoming legislative session.  As we look ahead to this important opportunity to clarify Learning Results implementation, local assessment is among our highest priorities.  In addition to state and federal funds available to begin this work, a grant from the LAB at Brown University will be used to help us focus on the requirements for certifying achievement of the Learning Results.

 

            The Department will continue to provide technical assistance and professional development in the area of local assessment.  The following initiatives are some of the most important examples:

 

Your DOE contact for matters related to local assessment is Pam Rolfe, Local Assessment Coordinator, 287-5924 or pam.rolfe@state.me.us.