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INFORMATIONAL LETTER: 64
POLICY CODE: ILBA
TO: Superintendents of Schools, Private School Administrators, Assistant Superintendents, Principals, and Curriculum Coordinators
FROM: Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner
DATE: November 23, 2005
RE: Local Assessment System (LAS) Development Suggestions for Districts
Since we embarked upon a series of mid-course adjustments designed to simplify, slow down, and support Local Assessment System development, we have received numerous requests for guidance on what to do on LAS development in the meantime. The purpose of this letter is to respond to these requests, even as we continue the review of Chapters 125 and 127.
Districts are advised to:
Take time to strengthen the connections across curriculum, instruction and assessment. It is critical that the local assessment system, and the standards-based system in which it is embedded, make educational sense to teachers, students, parents, and local policymakers. The recommended revisions to Chapter 127 include a stronger focus on the implementation of the system of Learning Results, and on the systemic nature of standards-based practice, as exemplified by the tool developed for the SAU Review Process. Most importantly, make sure that time is allocated to use the data generated by your assessments to inform teaching and improve student learning.
Be sure that the number of assessments included in your certification set is developed with careful consideration of what is necessary to assess the essential content in each subject area. In other words, “less is more” until new guidance documents are developed after the revisions of Chapter 127 are adopted by the Maine Legislature.
Identify, review, and revise as needed, a small number of assessments for each of the grade spans 3-4, 5-8, and 9-12 to be administered to all students to generate school level data in social studies, science, and health/PE. These assessments can and should be considered as one of the multiple measures used to document student achievement. As much as possible, make sure the assessments are based on the most essential knowledge and skills in the content area, such as in the cross-cutting process skills in science: inquiry and problem solving, scientific reasoning, and communication. Once data are gathered from these assessments, develop or strengthen processes for analyzing and using the data to improve curriculum and instruction.
Use good judgment in building reliability into your LAS. Think about the time and capacity that are available and plan accordingly. Assessments work best when the cycle of administration, scoring, data analysis, and action based on the analysis can be completed.
Develop a plan for when your district will begin awarding diplomas based on the Learning Results, as discussed in Informational Letter #135 from the 2004-2005 school year. The most important task is to ensure that that high school curriculum, instruction, programs of study, and assessments are aligned so that all students have a fair opportunity to learn the standards of the Learning Results, and that the common assessments and course grading practices are carefully integrated to prevent students from doing well in one system but failing in the other, and that careful discussions with faculty and school board have led to a clear and confident commitment that the school community is ready for this step. Our current assumption, which will need to be codified in the revised Chapters 125 and 127, is that validation by the Department will be required prior to the awarding of Learning Results Endorsements.
Department guidance does not require the measurement of every performance indicator.
MAP and LAD assessments are not required.
MAP and LAD assessments are not valid in and of themselves. They have demonstrated content validity, but valid implementation depends on the appropriate selection and use of these assessments.
MAP and LAD assessments are not reliable in and of themselves. The field test data the Department provides indicates the level of reliability achieved during field test activities. This data indicates the potential for an assessment to be scored reliably.
The MEDMS Local Assessment System module utilizing the EDmin INFORM application is currently being piloted in eight districts. After initial system administrator training the pilot sites began by loading teacher/ student/class data and they are now adding their local assessments. End user training for teachers on how to enter student assessment results is being conducted as sites are ready to go online. The application was updated in November incorporating user recommendations and is ready to accept additional sites. School units interested in utilizing the MEDMS LAS for tracking and reporting Maine Learning Results assessments should contact Bill Hurwitch at 624-6816, email@example.com , for more information. A demonstration site is available to view the system: (http://maine.ua.edmin.com user name: inform password: password1
Please be assured that the Department is using all the data available to us to inform the revisions to Chapter 127 and subsequently to Chapter 125. We are extremely pleased at how useful the SAU Review Process has been in filling in the picture of the current status of LAS implementation, and more broadly, the implementation of the system of Learning Results in all Maine districts. I am confident, based on the data, that we will be successful in completing effective mid-course adjustments that help strike the correct balance for our schools and students.