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TO:                  Superintendents of Schools (Please forward to Asst. Superintendents, Curriculum Coordinators, School Principals, Guidance Directors, and Special Education Directors)


FROM             Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner


DATE:             May 12, 2004


RE:                 Learning Results Implementation Timelines


Key Points Covered in this Informational Letter:


  • ELA and mathematics graduation requirement delayed until 2007-08.
  • These two subjects will be added to social studies, science, and health/PE, all of which will now be the basis for graduation in 2007-08.
  • The Legislature did not, however, extend the timeline for Local Assessment System (LAS) completion.
  • Since development of the LAS, at both state and local levels, is a “work in progress,” specific expectations have been outlined on what superintendents should use as a basis for signing this year’s blue form.
  • Superintendents will be able to request a waiver if minimal expectations have not been met.


At the beginning of the 2003-04 school year, I presented a recommendation to the Joint Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs to delay for one year the requirement that students demonstrate achievement of mathematics and English language arts standards of Maine’s Learning Results as a basis for graduation from high school.  By delaying the requirement in these two content areas for one year, it will allow the state share of educational costs to increase to 50% in 2007-08, as required in MRSA 20-A Section 15671 (1)(A) for full implementation of the Essential Programs and Services (EPS) model for school funding.


This week, the Maine Legislature enacted LD 1924, which contains a number of provisions related to EPS, education funding, and local property tax relief.  The bill also contains the delay of the graduation timeline in math and ELA to 2007-08.  This will mean that demonstrated achievement, documented through the Local Assessment System, in the five areas of math, ELA, social studies, science, and health/PE will be required of all students as a basis for granting a diploma in 2007-08. 


LD 1924 did not, however, extend the timeline for completing the Local Assessment System as I had initially recommended.  However, given that Local Assessment System development is by definition an evolving process, I have defined below the expectations for “completion” of local systems for the purposes of superintendent signature on the blue Annual School Approval Report (EF-I-291) to be submitted to the Department no later than September 2, 2004.  Superintendent signature on the blue form will indicate that your SAU meets the minimum expectations listed below for school year 2004-05.  Chapter 127 authorizes the Commissioner to grant waivers due to “unforeseeable circumstances or undue hardship including financial hardship.”  If your SAU does not meet the expectations listed below, please complete and submit the attached waiver request form along with your blue Annual School Approval Report (EF-I-291) no later than the September 2, 2004 deadline.  (See link below for waiver request form)




You will note in the expectations described below that SAUs will not be required to document that they have a system in place for data management.  Since the Department has yet to complete the MEDMS Local Assessment System module, local units will not be held accountable for complying with that particular standard.  In addition, you will note that at the secondary level only assessments for the incoming 9th grade students will be required.  This is to ensure that the first class of students to be held to the revised graduation standards in 2007-08 will have a solid basis in assessment evidence to support the certification decision. 


Local units will also be given wide latitude on how many assessments in social studies, science, and health/PE to administer in the 3-4 grade span.  According to Chapter 127, a unit must be able to obtain a picture of student performance in these three content areas at the school level.  The Department has not defined or provided guidance on a specific number of assessments that would be necessary to achieve this “school” level picture of student achievement.  As noted above, SAUs will be granted wide latitude in making this determination.


The following checklists outline the expectations that superintendents should use as the basis for certifying, on the blue Annual School Approval Report (EF-I-291), that the Local Assessment System is complete for purposes of 2003-04 requirements. 





Based on Chapter 127

Instructional Program, Assessment, and Diploma Requirements


4.02     Local Assessment System


B.     Implementation of Local Assessment System


(1)   By the end of the 2003-2004 school year, and annually thereafter, the Superintendent shall certify to the Commissioner that the local assessment system meets the assessment system standards established by this rule for the content areas English Language Arts, Health and Physical Education, Mathematics, Science and Technology, and Social Studies.


C.  Standards for Local Assessment System


(1)   Each assessment in the Local Assessment System shall meet the standards specified in part D. of this section (See list of standards for assessments below.)


(2)   There shall be multiple measures of student performance for each content area and for each grade span, sufficient to provide the results specified below, with criteria for selecting the type and range of measures, and for aligning the multiple measures with the content standards.


Expectations for Superintendent’s Signature: 


·        In the 9-12 grade span, be ready to administer assessments to 9th graders in all 5 content areas. 

·        In the 5-8 grade span, be ready to administer assessments to 5-8 graders in all 5 content areas.  

·        In the 3-4 grade span, be ready to administer assessments English language arts and mathematics as well as a locally determined number of assessments in science, social studies, and health and physical education across this grade span to obtain a school wide picture of student performance.

·        In the pK-2 grade span, be ready to administer assessments in English language arts and mathematics.


(3)   The local assessment system shall include at least the following levels of assessments: classroom, school, school administrative unit, and state.  The system may include regional and commercially produced assessments.


Expectations for Superintendent’s Signature:  Common and classroom assessments for certification defined.  (See LAS Guide)


(4)   The role of the Maine Education Assessment (MEA) in the local assessment system shall be explicitly stated.  Neither the MEA nor a commercially produced test may be the only measure of student achievement.


Expectations for Superintendent’s Signature:  (Refer to Information Letter #118 on Department recommended approach.)  SAUs are expected to have developed a plan outlining when this issue will be brought before a district decision-making body and a decision reached prior to January 1, 2005.


(5)   Alternate assessment shall be a component of the Local Assessment System, with clear guidelines for participation in alternate assessment.


Expectation for Superintendent’s Signature:  Guidelines in place to determine under what circumstances a student should participate in alternate assessments.


(6)   The mechanism for managing data produced by the Local Assessment System shall be clearly described and well coordinated. 


Expectation for Superintendent’s Signature:  None


(7)   The Local Assessment System shall be sufficient to determine student progress on the content standards of the system of Learning Results.  This does not require assessment of each performance indicator specified in Me. Dept. of Ed. Reg. 131.  This shall include an explanation on how results are aggregated up from specific assessments to a content standard and from the individual student to the school unit.


Expectation for Superintendent’s Signature:  (See Standards # 2 and # 3) If Standards #2 and #3 have been met, it is assumed that this standard will have also been met.


(8)   Training and development of school personnel shall be adequate to develop, use, and adapt assessment data.


Expectation for Superintendent’s Signature:  The unit’s Professional Development Plan includes this component.


(9)   A communications strategy shall provide for understanding of results by students, parents, and citizens, in addition to educators.


Expectation for Superintendent’s Signature:  The unit’s Comprehensive Education Plan includes this component.


(10)     The Local Assessment System shall provide school and student results across the grade spans as follows.  “School” means that for each school in the unit there are results for each content area as a whole; “student” means that for each student there are results for each content area as a whole.  “None” means that there are no results for the content area for the grade span indicated.


Expectation for Superintendent’s Signature:  (See Standard  # 3) If Standard #3 has been met, it is assumed that this standard will have also been met.



D.     Standards for Assessments


(1)   The content standard(s), performance indicator(s), and grade span addressed in each assessment are accurately specified.  For school administrative units that have developed local indicators to measure student performance on the content standards specified in Me. Dept. of Ed. Reg. 131, the administrative unit shall identify which of the state’s performance indicators are addressed by the specified local indicators.


(2)   The assessment is developmentally appropriate for the grade span and is part of a continuum for that standard across the grade spans.


(3)   The assessment provides all students with fair opportunity to demonstrate knowledge and understanding.


(4)   The assessment meets the requirements of validity:


(a)    The assessment is aligned with the specified performance indicators of the Learning Results content standards;

(b)   The assessment is fair to all students;

(c)    The assessment specifies the method used to ensure validity, subject to the approval of the Commissioner;

(d)   Accommodations are specified that maintain validity of the assessment, with clear guidelines for use of those accommodations; and

(e)    The assessment meets the requirements of reliability, specifying the method used to ensure reliability, subject to the approval of the Commissioner.


Standard 5 below is optional for SAUs this year, since accurately setting performance standards involves examining student work which can only be accomplished when assessments have been administered.


(5)   The assessment has established rigorous performance standards and specifies:


(a)    The method used to establish performance standards, subject to the approval of the Commissioner;

(b)   Who was involved in setting performance standards;

(c)    How the percentage of students at each performance level compares to the school unit’s MEA performance; and

(d)   The process for revising performance standards.



Department contact information: