November 2019

1% Waiver information

Congratulations, you did it! Thank you for all of your hard work in making appropriate determinations for participation in alternate assessments. Maine’s participation rate regarding alternate assessments for the spring 2019 administration is 0.98% for both math and ELA respectively. The science alternate assessment participation percentage rate is 1.0%. On Friday November 4 all districts at and above a 1% alternate participation rate received a message regarding their current anticipated participation rate for 2020. Though Maine’s participation rate meets federal regulations for 2019 resulting in not submitting a waiver request, we must remain consistent in the use of Participation Guidelines when making annual determinations at IEP meetings to ensure Maine’s alternate assessment participation rate remains at current levels. A webinar was conducted on October 16th to assist districts with completing an action plan. Action Plans were due November 1st. Thank you for your prompt submissions.


MAARS Individual Student Reports (ISRs)

The Assessment team in collaboration with our reporting vendor FocalPointK-12 continues to refine the format of the 2018-2019 ISRs. Once any reported data errors have been reviewed and amended where applicable, the 2018-2019 data sets will be utilized to populate the ISRs. As a reminder, the Maine DOE is excited to provide schools and districts the opportunity to share with parents a one-page summary report (formerly the student comprehensive report) or provide a 4-page comprehensive report (the former 2017-18 ISR format). Determinations regarding which report format to use is at the district/school discretion in order to meet parent and community needs. The team is anticipating ISR release on Wednesday November 6, 2019. Once available, a notification will be provided to DACs and will include a zip file of the parent MEA assessment result letter template. The zip file will contain translated versions of the letter.


Public Comment Alternate Science Assessment Reporting

The Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA) recently went out to RFP with Cognia obtaining the contract award. The State of Arizona will continue to operate as the fiscal lead for the contract. As part of the new MSAA contract Maine has the opportunity to implement a paper-based science alternate assessment during an April – May assessment window in the Spring of 2020 and discontinue the administration of the Personal Alternate Assessment Portfolio (PAAP). This shift will ensure all alternate assessments will be administered through the same platform while ensuring the Maine DOE moves closer to meeting USED Assessment Peer Review requirements.

The Department will be seeking a waiver from publicly reporting alternate science data from the Spring 2020 assessment administration. Part of the waiver application process includes posting for public comment. Stakeholders are encouraged to share all comments, including those of support and those of concern. Information related to the waiver request can be located in the DOE newsroom.


MSAA and PAAP Training Cancelled

Due to the change in the Alternate Science assessment (as noted above), the December 5th and 6th MSAA and PAAP training workshops have been cancelled. New workshop dates for the MEA Alternate Science and MSAA will be determined. The Expanded Performance Expectations (EPEs) based on the Next Generation Science Standards for grades 5, 8, and third year high school will be provided to teachers through the Alternate Assessment Listserv and to DACs through the Maine DAC mailing list.


Additional MAARS Training Dates Added

The following training dates have been added to the training calendar below:

November 13, 2019 - DAC MAARS Webinar Training via virtual Zoom meeting.

November 21, 2019 - MAARS Confidential Reporting and ESSA Amendment Session in Presque Isle


Changes to SAT Test Administration

As part of the annual SAT planning meeting between the Department, Cognia and the College Board, the following updates regarding SAT school day administration for 2020 were shared:

Seating requirements have changed.

  • The minimum distance between students has been reduced from 4 feet to 3 feet, measured from center of desk. This change will allow for 2 students to be seated at a table that is 6 feet or longer.
  • Required staff-to-student ratios have been changed for accommodated rooms (excluding 1:1 testing)
    • The ratio is now 1 staff member per 20 students (instead of 1 to 10).
  • Coordinator on demand training is available. The Accommodations Training is available now and Implementation of the Maine SAT School Day training will be available soon.


NAEP 2019

The National Center of Educational Statistics (NCES) released the 2019 NAEP Public data on October 30, 2019 with Maine students maintaining their level of performance in the top 1/3 of the nation. Approximately 33%, or 8,900 Maine students from grades 4 and 8 participated in the mathematics and reading assessments. Overall, there were no significant changes in the average reading and mathematics scale scores of Maine’s grade 4 students. The average mathematics scale score of Maine’s grade 8 students also demonstrated no significant change, while the average scale score in Reading declined four points. Maine was one of 31 states that experienced a slight decline in reading scores at grade 8. Maine DOE is currently examining the 2019 NAEP data at a deeper level to investigate differences between student group and percentile group performance.


Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2020

A small number of schools from Maine have been selected to participate in the PIRLS Field Studies in 2020. Following the model of Maine’s astronaut, Jessica Meir and through participation, these grade 4 students will have the opportunity to demonstrate their global citizenship skills. Districts and schools selected for PIRLS participation will be notified later this month.


General Reminders

Please ensure all DAC contacts are current in NEO. Teachers, district test coordinators may sign up to receive Assessment Listserv notices for general assessments and for the Alternate Assessment Listserv. For those looking for notifications regarding the ACCESS / Alternate ACCESS for ELLs, please subscribe to the ESL Communication list. Please view the 2019/20 Assessment Administration Calendar for assessment administration dates.

The ACCESS for ELLs and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs Materials Ordering window takes place October 14th through November 13th. Please make sure all testing materials are ordered.


Professional Development & Training

As a result of feedback from school and district staff and to support educators in their schedule planning, the assessment team will be providing in each monthly update, a schedule of upcoming professional development. Registration links will be made available here as well as the Professional Development calendar.


Delivery Method



November 13, 2019


DAC MAARS Training


Join Zoom Meeting (opens 11/13/19)

November 19, 2019


MAARS Confidential Reporting Portal & ESSA Amendments

Abromson Community Education Center
88 Bedford St
Portland, ME 04101

Register Now

November 20, 2019


MAARS Confidential Reporting Portal & ESSA Amendments

Wells Conference Center
131 Munson Road
University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469

Register Now

November 21, 2019


MAARS Confidential Reporting Portal & ESSA Amendments

Grand Ballroom - Aroostook Room
181 Main St
University of Maine - Presque Isle
Presque Isle, ME 04769

Register Now

February 12, 2020


eMPowerME & SAT Test Administration

Black Bear Inn and Conference Center
Orono ME

February 13, 2020


eMPowerME & SAT Test Administration

Abromson Community Education Center
88 Bedford St
Portland, ME 04101


Web updates 

To keep administrators up to date on the new assessment team content for the 2019-2020 administration, we will be including a brief list of updated forms, modules, trainings, and manuals in these monthly updates for your convenience. Here are the most recent updates to the assessment team pages: 

Operational Procedures Manual for 2019-20

1% Action Plan webinar

eMPowerME Administration Tools

eMPower Large Print Paper Version Request

eMPower Paper Version Request

eMPower Event Calendar

SAT Event Calendar

MEA Science Event Calendar

2018 eMPowerME Math/ELA Released Items

2018-19 MEA Science Equating Report

2018-19 MeCAS Technical Report


Comments or Suggestions? 

Please email Eric Buckhalter  with any comments, questions or suggestions regarding the monthly assessment update. We welcome feedback that helps us to support and clarify our work together.  


Assessment Team Contact Information  

Interim Assessment Team Leader  

Janette Kirk – 624-6707 

Assessment Coordinator (eMPowerME, SAT, Science) 

Nancy Godfrey – 624-6775 

Alternate Assessment/WIDA Coordinator (MSSA, PAAP, ACCESS, Alternate ACCESS) 

Sue Nay – 624-6774 

National & International Assessment Coordinator (NAEP, PISA, PIRLS, TIMMS) 

Dr. Regina Lewis – 624-6715 

Management Analyst & Office Manager 

Eric Buckhalter – 624-6770 

Vision for Assessment

Assessment is an embedded component of an equitable instructional cycle, with multiple purposes for educators, students, parents, policy makers, and community members, all with the goal of supporting student growth for lifelong learning.