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Reading and Math Performance Improves
Students in Grades 3 through 8 show progress on MEA
August 13, 2009
AUGUSTA – The percentage of students meeting achievement level standards on the 2009 Maine Educational Assessment increased in all grades from 3 to 8 in both reading and mathematics, except for grade 8 reading where scores remained unchanged from the year before.
The percentage of students meeting standards increased by as much as 8 percentage points in 4th grade reading and as little as 1 percent in 8th grade mathematics. The increase in students meeting achievement standards is a continuation of a three-year trend showing slow but steady increases after several years of generally unchanged performance.
“The Department is keenly aware of, and wishes to recognize, the intensified efforts of teachers and administrators at the local level who are largely responsible for these gains,” said Commissioner Sue Gendron of the Maine Department of Education. “We also know that more work needs to be done to support those students who are not yet meeting standards.”
In the science portion of the MEA, 55 percent of students in grade 5 and 62 percent of students in grade 8 met or exceeded the achievement standards. The scores cannot be compared to previous years because science standards were revised in 2007, with spring 2009 being the first time they were tested. As is typical with such revisions, which are made periodically, a new trend line is established and comparisons to previous years are not possible.
The 2008–2009 school year testing program marks the end of the 25-year MEA reading and mathematics state testing program originally developed in 1985 with Measured Progress (formally known as Advanced Systems) based in Dover, New Hampshire. Beginning with the 2009–2010 school year, Maine will join The New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP—a regional assessment collaboration that includes New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island) for grades 3–8 reading, mathematics and writing assessments.
By joining the collaborative, Maine significantly reduces its costs for testing and joins a growing regional approach to education that will benefit its students. The tests are developed in common by all partner states and are aligned with the standards (what all students should know and be able to do at each grade level) that all NECAP states have adopted. Maine’s standards in reading, writing and mathematics were already closely aligned with the NECAP standards, meaning that teachers will not have to make substantial changes to accommodate the transition. A significant change in moving to the NECAP program is the date of test administration. Unlike the traditional March MEA administration window, NECAP testing begins on October 1st of the new school year. Because of the early administration, students are tested on the standards from the previous year. For example, grade 6 students are tested on the 5th grade standards.
Maine did not administer the MEA writing test in spring 2009 because of the move to the NECAP assessment for writing. The new NECAP writing test is substantially different and will allow for reporting of writing scores even if an individual question or writing prompt is found to be problematic, as happened with the grade 8 writing test in 2008. Assessment of writing is not a requirement under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
MHSA/Secondary test scores
Results for the Maine High School Assessment, which consists of the SAT test, a supplemental series of mathematics questions, and a separate science test, will be released in mid-September, along with the Adequate Yearly Progress results for all schools, both elementary and high school. AYP is the federal accountability requirement that measures progress in student achievement at each school.
Contact: David Connerty-Marin, 207-624-6880
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