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INFORMATIONAL LETTER:  60

POLICY CODE: ILBB

 

 

 

 

TO:                  Superintendents of Schools, Middle School Principals, MLTI Teacher Leaders and Technology Leaders

 

FROM:            Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner of Education

 

DATE:             January 2, 2004

 

RE:                   Update to the Maine Educational Assessment (MEA) Online Implementation Plans

 

Please distribute this information to all school personnel who will be involved with the grade 8 MEA administration scheduled for March 1 – 12, 2004.

 

Based on the results of the beta and pilot tests and feedback about readiness from the field, I have decided to phase in the MEA Online grade 8 assessment over 2 school years.  The following changes are described in this letter:

 

·        All districts are required to participate in the training for implementation, the practice test process, and school infrastructure certification this school year.

·        Schools able to demonstrate readiness will have the option to assess writing through the MEA Online in 2004.

·        A paper version of the MEA will be available to all schools for the MEA assessment in March 2004. 

 

Implementing the MEA Online in grade 8 represents a very ambitious undertaking by Maine schools.  The outcome of this effort will redefine how we conduct large-scale student performance assessments for all grades in Maine in the future, and holds the potential to:

 

·        Support the creation of tests that are better measures of the knowledge and skills needed by students to achieve the expectations of Maine’s Learning Results;

·        Strengthen Maine’s commitment to our ambitious use of laptops as an essential learning tool;

·        Assess students in a manner that better matches their experiences in the classroom, providing a fairer opportunity for students with identified disabilities and those students new to the English language to demonstrate their achievement;

·        Increase the efficiency of the assessment process within schools, and reduce the burden on staff to administer the tests; and

·        Improve the efficiency of processing and scoring of tests, enabling earlier reporting of results.

 

I wish to take this opportunity to thank the teachers and students in the schools that volunteered to do the beta and pilot testing of the computer-based assessment system. From our review of the outcomes in pilot testing the new MEA Online systems, it is now clear that full implementation will take more than one school year.  While most of the development issues have been addressed successfully, not all schools are ready to meet the necessary requirements for implementation.  Lengthening the timeline to a 2-year process will result in a higher level of readiness, expand the opportunity for schools to become more familiar with the system, and allow for a Maine comparability study for examining differences in computer versus paper-based student responses.

 

Implementation Requirements for the MEA Online Grade 8 Writing Assessment

 

Only the MEA Online Grade 8 writing assessment will be available to schools for the March 2004 administration.  Participation in the online writing assessment will be contingent on the school’s readiness as determined through a certification process.  Schools unable to achieve readiness will have access to the writing assessment on paper.  The reading, mathematics, and science and technology will be delivered to all schools on paper for the March 2004 MEA administration.

 

Readiness Requirements for All Schools

 

In March of 2005, all subjects will be assessed through the MEA Online.  To achieve this implementation strategy, plans for staff training, and the availability of practice tests in all content areas will continue as described in Informational Letter 49, and the letter from Measured Progress dated December 5, 2003 (copies of these letters are posted on http://maine.itest-k12.org).

 

All schools are required to follow the readiness certification process as described below:

 

·        Students and Staff Data - If not already submitted, complete the student enrollment pre-load information, and communicate the lists to Measured Progress no later than January 10, 2004. The preload information is available at http://maine.itest-k12.org/preload/.

·        Staff Training – Identify and enroll staff for participation in the train the trainer model program for MEA coordinators and technical support staff. The enrollment is done through the following address: http://iregister.measuredprogress.org

·        Practice Tests – All schools are expected to participate in at least one of the MEA Online practice tests following training.  This is essential to acquaint both teachers and students with the use of the system. It will also enable Measured Progress to confirm the schools capacity to receive and transmit assessment information.

·        Readiness Requirements – Schools should check their system capacity to determine the extent to which it meets basic requirements.  Following training, schools should test their system to determine readiness to implement the practice tests in February, and the writing assessment as part of the March 1 – 12, 2004 assessment. Measured Progress will certify school readiness to participate in the online Writing assessment.  The outcome of the practice assessment will be a determination of school readiness to participate in the 2005 MEA Online assessment.  If not ready, the school in consultation with Measured Progress and the Department will develop a plan to achieve readiness by the 2005 MEA administration date.

 

I believe this implementation strategy will enable us to move ahead with the MEA Online providing schools with the experience necessary for a successful implementation.  Further, it addresses the concerns raised for possible impact on school MEA scores in reading and mathematics in relation to the Adequate Yearly Progress designations required by the accountability requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act.  The comparability study mentioned earlier will be utilized to equate the scores from the 2004 school year to the MEA Online assessment in 2005. 

 

For additional information or clarification of the MEA Online assessment implementation plans, please contact Dr. Brud Maxcy, MEA Coordinator at brud.maxcy@maine.gov, or by phone at (207) 624-6774.