State Assessment Results Released

Reading, writing, math scores stable

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Education released the results Tuesday of the fall 2010 New England Common Assessment Program of testing in reading, writing and mathematics in grades 3 through 8.

The percentage of students “proficient” or above was similar to last year. Overall, approximately 70 percent of students in the six grades scored at or above the “proficient” level in reading, meaning the students are meeting or exceeding the expectations for the content area, according to state standards.

In mathematics, 61 percent of students in the six grades tested scored at or above “proficient.” In writing, which is tested in grades 5 and 8, only 48 percent of students scored at or above “proficient.” It was the first year of writing scores for Maine in the NECAP program; the 2009 testing included only pilot questions in writing, something that occurs every five years.

State assessments are conducted as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act to annually measure student achievement in mathematics and reading in grades 3-8 and in grade 11, as well as science in grades 5, 8 and 11. Maine uses the NECAP as its test of reading, mathematics and writing in grades 3 through 8 and the SAT as its 11th grade assessment. It uses a state-developed test to measure science each spring.

NECAP testing, conducted each fall, takes up to 9 hours in most grades, and up to 12 hours in grades 5 and 8 (due to the additional writing assessment). If all students in a class finish early, testing time can be reduced by as much as 50 percent. Testing takes place during a three-week window starting October 1, with schools developing their own test schedule.

It is Maine’s second year of testing under the New England Common Assessment Program, which is composed of Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. When Maine joined NECAP, it did not adopt the NECAP science test, as its structure was significantly different than Maine’s. Maine continues to perform well compared to the nation in science as measured by the recently released National Assessment of Educational Progress science results.

While NECAP is an important measure of academic progress, it is only one of many ways that schools measure the progress of students. In evaluating the success of students and schools, it is essential that parents, educators, and community leaders consider multiple forms of assessment, such as: community involvement, attendance, graduation rates, the number of students pursuing further education after high school, school safety issues, discipline records, and other relevant information.