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USDE Gives Maine Final OK for SAT
Groundbreaking use of SAT as high school assessment approved
April 30, 2008
AUGUSTA – The U.S. Department of Education gave full approval April 24 to Maine’s groundbreaking use of the augmented SAT to assess achievement of Maine’s Learning Results standards in Grade 11. The federal agency had previously challenged the state’s use of the SAT and in December 2006 gave Maine “Approval Pending” status.
“This validates what we have known from the start – that the SAT can serve as a viable assessment component and as a tool for raising post-secondary aspirations for our high school students,” said Susan A. Gendron, Maine’s Commissioner of Education.
There are now 30 states with fully approved assessment sytems under the No Child Left Behind Act and another five states with approval expected soon.
The use of the SAT in place of the MEA test in spring 2006 initially met with resistance from some lawmakers and educators, but Gendron said federal education officials have been strong in their encouragement of Maine’s efforts to promote post-secondary education and having all students take the college admissions assessment test known as the SAT clearly supports that goal.
Initial opposition has lessened as the participation rate has been consistently high, results positive, and anecdotal evidence has shown students not previously considering post-secondary education chose to apply to college after participating in the SAT and seeing their scores. “I can’t say enough about the hard work done by Maine high schools to successfully implement this assessment program. It has just been phenomenal,” Gendron said.
Maine made adjustments to its use of the SAT in 2007 in order to meet the USDE’s concerns – most notably, Maine added a mathematics “augmentation” – 18 additional mathematics questions administered separately from the SAT to assess understanding of some of Maine’s mathematics standards not adequately covered on the SAT.
States around the nation have been watching Maine to see if the use of the augmented SAT would be successful, and also watching to see if the U.S. Department of Education would support the move.
“The USDE held us to a very high standard in documenting the technical merits of our SAT-centered program but they were fair and approachable in their dealings with us. We have a better assessment program because of their willingness to work with us.” said Gendron. The commissioner went on to note that the letter of approval was especially well timed as all Maine 11th graders are scheduled to take the SAT this Saturday.
Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education Kerri L. Briggs congratulated Maine on meeting the assessment requirements and complimented the MDOE staff for their work style throughout the review process. She made one recommendation – that Maine “continue to examine and strengthen the alignment of its high school assessments (the SAT assessment augmented with additional items) with the Maine academic content standards.” Continued work in that area is already a part of Maine’s work plan.
A copy of Brigg’s letter can be found online at: http://www.maine.gov/education/news/USDEapproval42408.pdf
Gendron spoke at a press conference Wednesday at South Portland High School where she was joined by Principal Jeanne Crocker and students who took the SAT last year and found it to be a positive experience.
“At South Portland High School there’s no question that the students make a caerful judgement about what is meningful to them and what is not,” Crocker said. “As juniors, the SAT becomes important, so students are motivated to prepare and do their best. These results are therefore much more valid than MEA results were before and can be used by schools to assess our curriculum and instruction.”
Contact: Dan Hupp, SAT Initiative Coordinator, 207-624-6827/207-592-1978
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