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TO:                 Superintendents of Schools


FROM:          Susan Gendron, Commissioner


DATE:            May 2, 2003


RE:                 Local Assessment System Update



I am very mindful that the next phase of local assessment system development is crucial for you and your districts.  Department staff and our contractors for various aspects of the work will continue to give the highest possible priority to providing the technical guidance and support you need to complete the development of your local assessment system.  This update is intended to keep you informed of a few upcoming events that bear on the work. 


A key piece of supportive information has recently been developed by the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) in consultation with our local assessment contractors.  This technical report, which outlines proposed criteria and guidelines for complying with Chapter 127, will address the questions of sufficiency, balance of representation, range and type of assessments, as well as provide several content area model assessment plans.  In order to make every effort to ensure that the report is clear and helpful, DOE staff have begun a series of critical review sessions with groups of practitioners, the first with a group of curriculum coordinators on April 16th.  In addition, this year’s Curriculum Coordinators’ Conference on May 5th will be used to obtain additional critical feedback on the report from a broader group of practitioners.   Also planned is a session with a mixed group of superintendents, principals, and teachers, which will be held on May 8th. (DOE staff will be soliciting names of suggested participants from MPA, MEA, and MSSA for this session.)  Then on May 9th a joint meeting of the Policy Advisory Committee, the Technical Advisory Committee, and our local assessment contractors will synthesize the feedback and prepare the final draft of the report for review and approval by me. 


Our plan is to mail the technical report to all superintendents at least a week in advance of our summer DOE assessment system design institutes to allow local teams to review the document in advance, then use the institute session to compare local assessment systems to the complete set of technical requirements.  We will, of course, be devoting considerable time to this subject at the Superintendents’ Conference as well.


We are committed to completing this crucial work as rapidly as possible while making sure that when it is completed it provides the most complete, comprehensive, and usable guidance for local assessment system design teams.  With that in mind, I encourage you to register a team for one of the summer assessment system design institutes, information for which should have reached you by now or will be in the very near future.  I will also make every effort to provide up-to-the-minute information on other components of the system, including our NCLB plan and the very important Maine Educational Data Management System (MEDMS).   If you have questions, please contact Pam Rolfe, Local Assessment Coordinator at 624-6785.