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TO:                  Superintendents of Schools (please forward to Assistant Superintendents, Principals, and Curriculum Coordinators)


FROM:            Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner


Date:                October 12, 2004


Re:               State Student Assessment Programs


Key Points Covered in this Informational Letter:


Maine Educational Assessment (MEA):

  • The MEA is scheduled for administration in the period March 7 – 18, 2005 at grades 4, 8, and 11.  Its design is unchanged for 2004-05.
  • MEA Online at grade 8 will include reading, writing, mathematics, and science/technology assessments in 2005 and it is expected that all schools will participate in the computer-based assessment program.
  • PAAP design is essentially unchanged for 2004-05, with the submission of student portfolios scheduled for April 4, 2005.

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Annual Assessment:

  • No Child Left Behind Annual Assessment in reading and mathematics, designed to measure grade level expectations (GLEs), is currently under development and will be field-tested in grades 3, 5, 6, and 7 during the week of March 24 – 30, 2005.  The field test will involve all schools and require approximately two hours of student time.
  • No Child Left Behind Annual Alternate Assessment is still in the planning stages and the dates for a limited field trial will be announced at a later date.

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP):

  • National Assessment of Educational Progress biennial sampling assessments in reading, mathematics, and science will produce state level performance comparisons in grades 4 and 8.  Schools selected for the sample have already been notified about the assessment administration period that extends from January 24th through February 18th of 2005.

Role of the Maine Educational Data Management System (MEDMS):

·        MEDMS will be utilized to provide the student demographic information required for MEA analysis and the No Child Left Behind Act Adequate Yearly Progress accountability requirements. See MDOE Informational Letter #41 for information about MEDMS student data collection:



This Informational Letter is intended to provide an overview for state level student assessment in the 2004-05 school year, which includes the MEA assessment of Learning Results, the annual assessments at grades 3, 5, 6, and 7 necessitated by the NCLB Act, and the biennial National Assessment of Educational Progress. You will receive additional detailed information about the administration requirements of each assessment.


Maine Educational Assessment (MEA)

The MEA, revised in the 2003-04 school year to provide more complete individual student results, is unchanged for 2004-05.  The assessments in reading, writing, mathematics, and science/technology at grades 4, 8, and 11 are scheduled for March 7 – 18, 2005.  The administration sequence and schedule are now posted on the MEA website at MEA materials will be delivered to schools no later than March 1, 2005 and retrieved on March 23, 2005. MEA test administration training will be scheduled for early February at five regional sites.


As MEA analysis and reporting will be based on student information from MEDMS, it is critical that all schools provide this data to MEDMS and update data as changes in enrollment occur during the school year.  The benefit for schools is more efficient entry of the needed information and the assurance that the data used for analysis is accurate and up to date.  The MEA Student Response Booklet (SRB) will come to schools pre-printed with the student’s name and MEDMS identification number as the key to the demographic information required for analysis and reporting.


In October, the MEA and No Child Left Behind Act staff will provide regional workshops on the interpretation and utilization of the MEA School Summary Reports and the NCLB Adequate Yearly Progress Reports. The locations and dates are listed below; registration information will be sent soon.

Presque Isle      October 19, 2004        1:00 p.m.– 4:00 p.m.   

Bangor             October 20, 2004        9:00 a.m.– Noon         

Saco                October 22, 2004        9:00 a.m.– Noon         

So. Portland     October 25, 2004        9:00 a.m.– Noon         

Augusta            November 4, 2004       9:00 a.m.– Noon


A professional development opportunity for teachers to learn the basics of standards-based scoring in science assessment is being planned for December 1, 2, and 3 in Bangor and December 7, 8, and 10 in Portland. The sessions for teachers in grades 4, 8, and 11 will use a train-the-trainer approach so the participants can use the materials to train their colleagues. Registration information will be sent soon.


MEA Online

The MEA Online at grade 8 will expand to include all MEA content areas assessed, with the goal of achieving readiness and participation of all schools.  Based on the experiences from assessing writing last year, modifications have been made to the computer-based assessment system to facilitate school and student participation.  A streamlined readiness certification process and training opportunities are intended to support schools’ successful participation.  The readiness certification requirements are available at the following website: http://MAINE.ITEST-K12.ORG.  The dates and locations for half-day training opportunities, along with electronic registration, will soon be available at the same website.  If you have questions about the status of your readiness certification, you may call the Measured Progress help desk at 1-877-934-8378.


Entry of MEDMS student demographic information is a key to successful participation in the MEA Online.  To achieve the greatest benefit from both staff training and student training opportunities, you must provide student demographic information to MEDMS for grade 8 students by October 13, 2004.


MEA Personalized Alternate Assessment Portfolio (PAAP)

Maine’s alternate assessment program, PAAP, is designed to allow participation in the MEA program for those students who require accommodations so significant that they would compromise the validity of the MEA tests.  The PAAP portfolio format enables students to produce work throughout the year as a basis for evaluating performance in relation to Maine Learning Results content standards. Detailed information about the program and this administration is available at the following website:


PAAP for grades 4, 8, and 11 will be unchanged in format for the 2004-05 school year. However, a recent federal NCLB ruling will allow extension of the timeline from 1 to 2 years for student science assessment responses to be collected.  PAAP training will provide a strategy to phase in this change.


Training opportunities are scheduled throughout the year and can be accessed at the website shown above.  The student portfolios must be submitted by April 4, 2005 and received by Measured Progress on or before April 8, 2005.  Scoring will be held in late April, and provides an opportunity for teacher professional development.  Information about scoring will be available at the training opportunities.


NCLB Annual Assessment Programs

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires annual assessments in reading and mathematics for all students in grades 3 – 8 and one secondary school grade to be used in determining Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for schools beginning in the 2005-06 school year.  The MEA at grades 4, 8 and 11 will provide the required reading and mathematics assessment information.  The Department is currently working with Measured Progress to develop reading and mathematics assessments at grades 3, 5, 6, and 7 based on the recently published grade level expectations (GLEs) for students.  The new assessment will share a format similar to the MEA at grades 4, 8, and 11, containing a mix of selected-response and constructed-response questions to measure student performance on the GLEs. However, the tests will be shorter, approximately two hours for each content area, and will contain a greater percentage of selected-response items than the MEA.  Information about grade level expectations is available at:


In this school year (2004-05), test questions for the new assessments will be field-tested in grades 3, 5, 6, and 7 in all schools.  The field test will require a total of two hours of student time, one hour each for the reading and mathematics assessment.  Because this is a field test, sets of different questions will be administered in schools and no local results will be produced. The purpose of the field test is to determine the items to be selected for the operational tests, and it will not play any role in AYP determination for 2004-05.  It will also serve the purpose of familiarizing schools with the test’s format and the logistics of a multi-grade test administration.


The field test of the new NCLB assessments is scheduled for March 24 - 30, 2005.  Schools will have the flexibility to administer the two one-hour test sessions anytime during the week.  Schools have raised concern that they may not have the capacity to meet the administration requirements for students with special needs during the regular MEA test administration period.  A survey of school capacity to administer the tests will follow the administration to help determine the best timing for the operational assessment beginning the 2005-06 school year.


Regional workshops titled “Introduction to Maine’s Grade Level Expectations in Reading and Mathematics” will focus on an overview and purpose of grade level expectations, as well as the NCLB annual assessment test design and sample items. Dates and locations are listed below; registration materials have been mailed.

            Augusta            November 30   1 – 4 p.m.

            Presque Isle      December 2     1 - 4 p.m.

            Bangor             December 3     9 a.m. – Noon

            Portland           December 13   1 – 4 p.m.


The NCLB program also requires the development of an alternate assessment for the approximately 1 percent of students that cannot be accommodated in the standard administration.  Currently the Department is collaborating with Measured Progress in the development of a task-based approach that will complement the PAAP program.  Details about the new NCLB alternate reading and mathematics assessments, along with information about the field-test strategy, will be available soon.


National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) will be administered in about half of the public schools in Maine between January 24th and February 18th of 2005.  The subjects assessed will be reading, mathematics, and science; the grades covered will be 4, 8, and 12.  Schools are selected for NAEP by a statistical process from a stratified sampling of districts that takes into account their size, location, and record of achievement.  Students in the schools are then chosen according to a number of demographic factors, including socio-economic indicators. 


The Maine schools selected have already been contacted.  To help ease the intrusion of NAEP testing on the schools, trained administrators will be sent by NAEP to the schools to handle all aspects of the administration.  John Kennedy, Maine NAEP State Coordinator, is making a personal contact with all participating schools in an effort to support the process. Please direct all questions and concerns about NAEP in Maine to or 207-624-6636. 


MEA/NCLB Annual Assessment Contact Information: