Skip Maine state header navigation

Agencies | Online Services | Help











TO:                  Superintendents, Principals, Curriculum Coordinators, and MEA Coordinators


FROM:            Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner


DATE:             January 27, 2004


RE:                   Maine Educational Assessment (MEA) for March 1 – 12, 2004


This letter provides additional details about the MEA administration scheduled for

March 1 – 12, 2004.  Attached is important new information about student participation in the MEA or MEA/Personalized Alternate Assessment Portfolio (PAAP) as required by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), entitled “Maine Educational Assessment (MEA) Operational Procedures.”  Please review and distribute this Informational Letter and the attached Operational Procedures document to all staff involved with the administration of the MEA or the MEA/PAAP.  This information is intended to be used in conjunction with “Policies and Procedures for Accommodations and Alternate Assessment,” found at


Please reserve February 11, 2004 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. to view the MEA Annual Administration Workshop, which will be presented over Maine’s ATM system.  This workshop will provide useful information for staff who will administer the MEA.  If you wish to receive this broadcast at an ATM site in your district, your ATM Session Coordinator should contact Amy Kilbreth at or (207) 624-6663 to schedule this event.  Scheduling arrangements should be made by February 9, 2004.  Tapes of this presentation can be made at your ATM site or ordered through the Maine State Library by calling

(207) 287-5620.


As explained in Informational Letter #67 (dated May 2, 2003), the following MEA modifications are being implemented this year:

·        MEA Single Test Administration Schedule – The MEA is scheduled to be administered from March 1 – 12, 2004.  This change to a single administration is possible because the number of content areas being assessed has been reduced.

·        MEA Online – For Grade 8 only, the MEA will utilize the MLTI laptop computer capacity to make the English language arts - writing portion of the MEA available online as an option to schools that are certified to participate.  The latest information on the MEA Online, including school online certification requirements, is available at the following address: You may wish to refer to Informational Letter #60 dated January 2, 2004, for further details. A paper version will be available to all schools as well. 

·        MEA Test Design – The number of questions that comprise an individual student’s score has been increased to improve test reliability coefficients. While the earlier tests were adequate, the MEA results are now used in the process of certifying student achievement and to determine a school’s Adequate Yearly Progress, rather than primarily as a tool for program evaluation. The change in test design has been accomplished without significantly increasing the time a student is engaged in the assessment process. The test design and schedule may be viewed at the following address:

·        Writing Assessment – The writing assessment now includes two shorter writing tasks (20 minutes) in addition to the writing prompt to better measure Learning Results expectations for writing. Sample writing tasks, scoring rubrics, and student response samples are available on the MEA address listed above. While the longer writing prompt (45 minutes) will be retained, the integrated reading/writing task will no longer be used. The evaluation of 3, rather than 2, samples of student writing should produce more consistent student and school scores.

·        Writing Scoring - Measured Progress scorers, rather than Maine teachers, will accomplish the scoring of writing.  This change is necessitated by the new NCLB reporting timelines.  Scoring will be to the same standards, and selection of anchor sets will have input from our experienced MEA table leaders.

·        Released Items – The new design requires a reduction in the number of items that may be released each year for school use, so that tests may continue to be equated from year to year.  The plan calls for releasing 50% of the items comprising an individual student’s score.  The released items will be representative of all of the content standards assessed. Both selected response and student constructed response items will be released and prepared for school use in an electronic format, similar to the current release of common items.  One of the two writing tasks will be released each year, along with the longer prompt.

·        Enrollment information requirements have been revised to include identification of whether a student has been enrolled in the school/district for a Full Academic Year (enrolled on or before October 1, 2003).

·        Measured Progress has used a new electronic enrollment verification format to collect enrollment counts for both the MEA and the MEA/PAAP programs, and all school enrollment numbers have been received at this time.

·        Further information is required for those students participating in the MEA/PAAP.  Instructions regarding this information will be sent to schools by Measured Progress in the next week.  The window for entering the PAAP student information will be February 2-13, 2004.

·        Student Demographics – NCLB requires a more precise identification of students below the poverty level.  In response, the MEA will use student participation in the National Free and Reduced Price Meals Program as the indicator.  While State assessment programs may have access to this information, it is essential that the information be handled in a confidential manner.  Reporting of this information will be at a group level and individual student information will not be released.  The MEA does not report information at the school level when the group size falls below five. A copy of the letter from the United States Department of Education, approving the use of this information for this purpose, is available on the MEA homepage at

The first two pages of the MEA student response booklet, which contain the data fields for this demographic information, are posted on this website to assist schools in identifying the information they need to provide once testing is completed.

·        School and Student Reports - The modifications in the MEA test specifications will support a more detailed student report with a chart showing the strengths of the performance information being reported for Learning Results content standard clusters.  School and District Summary Reports will be revised to report similar information.  Both individual student and summary reports will include performance charts that will not use scale scores, but will show the strength or weakness of the student performance in relation to the “Meets the Standards” cut score.

·        Reports Available Earlier - Perhaps the most import change in reporting is the change in the return date for all MEA results, including the MEA PAAP, to July 15, 2004. To meet this reporting deadline, it is imperative that schools meet the March 17, 2004 deadline for returning completed test materials to Measured Progress.


While the list of modifications to the MEA design, data collection, and reporting appear lengthy, the assessments will be statistically equated with past MEA assessments.  Our goal is to support each student in having a fair opportunity to demonstrate his or her knowledge and skills in achieving Maine’s Learning Results standards.



Attachment: Maine Educational Assessment (MEA) Operational Procedures