New options available for high school assessment

This notice is to inform school districts of changes to next year’s testing at the high school level. These changes include new options and opportunities, some of which require immediate action in order to take advantage of them.

These changes and new options will provide schools with more assessment data, including the possibility for data at four years of a student’s high school experience. This could be especially helpful in detecting and reacting earlier to need for remediation, and hopefully precluding the need for remediation at the start of college or other post-secondary education. The required components of the 2012-13 MHSA will remain unchanged from last year; specifically:

  • All 10th graders will be required to take the PSAT/NMSQT on Oct. 17, 2012 and as in the past, the state will fund this assessment;
  • All 3rd year (since initial enrollment into high school) students will be required to take the SAT on May 4, 2013, also at state expense.

The new local options (not required) described below are designed to allow for additional customized testing for students who see benefit from increased assessment feedback and/or for schools that desire a more continuous and comprehensive assessment program:

  • The state will now cover all costs associated with the optional administration of the College Board’s ReadiStep assessment, which measures academic readiness for high school. This option will be made available to schools that wish to test any or all of their 9th graders during the early fall of 2012 (administration window of October 17 – 31). All logistical coordination of the ReadiStep will be made directly via the College Board. To learn more about this option please see the Frequently Asked Question section below.
  • The Maine Department of Education will not mandate additional testing (beyond the SAT) in the junior year but will fund all costs for students who wish to take either the PSAT/NMSQT or the ACCUPLACER during that 11th grade school year; the ACCUPLACER option will subsidize student costs for up to 6 sub-tests (units). This policy is designed to encourage and support students as they prepare for a wide variety of post-secondary opportunities. Also please note that this new ACCUPLACER option will replace the state’s current ACCUPLACER reimbursement policy. Additional information regarding the ACCUPLACER option will be sent out at a later date.

Schools covered by the Maine DOE’s agreement with College Board will not be subject to unused test fees for the PSAT/NMSQT or the ReadiStep.

One other change has been made to the readiness and support portion of the College Board contract. Beginning next year, only those students in their 3rd year of high school will be eligible for the free SAT On-line course. This replaces the previous policy which allowed for all students in grades 9-12 to access the program. As before, however, all teachers and administrators will be eligible to participate in the SAT On-line Course.  Additional information regarding these changes is forthcoming.

Looking forward, the Maine DOE will continue the use of the SAT as the high school accountability measure through the 2013-14 school year. Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, the Maine DOE plans to participate in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium ( for all ESEA required testing in grades 3-8 and high school.


Q:   What is ReadiStep™?
ReadiStep is the first step on the College Board’s College Readiness Pathway — an integrated series of assessments that includes the PSAT/NMSQT and the SAT.

ReadiStep offers the same skill identification and college planning benefits as the PSAT/NMSQT. Similar to the PSAT/NMSQT, ReadiStep consists of three (3) multiple choice sections (40 minutes each) — reading, writing (no essay), and math (no student-produced response questions).

Like the PSAT/NMSQT and the SAT, ReadiStep is aligned to Common Core State Standards, as well as individual state standards. Together, ReadiStep, PSAT/NMSQT, and the SAT measure a progression of skills and help schools and districts make targeted interventions at critical points in a student’s career.

For more information about ReadiStep, please visit

Q:  What are the benefits of administering ReadiStep?
ReadiStep provides schools and districts with tools that support earlier identification of skill gaps and vertically aligned data to improve teaching and learning. Results can be used to inform course placement or identify students who may need extra support early in their high school experience.  By administering ReadiStep, your district will receive the following:

  • Student Report (two per student)
  • School Level Student Data File
  • Summary of Answers and Skills (SOAS) report
  • Electronic data that you can integrate with other district data
  • Benchmarks that show how many students are on track for college success
  • Skills Insight™ and other skill improvement tools
  • Online college and career planning tools for students (*All students who take ReadiStep receive free access to MyRoad™, and online college and career planning tool.)

Q:  When is the ReadiStep test date?
ReadiStep may be administered anytime during the flexible testing window of October 17-31, 2012. (*Note that this window includes the PSAT/NMSQT administration date, so both tests can be administered on the same day, helping to build a college readiness culture throughout your school.)

Q:  How is ReadiStep administered?
ReadiStep is a paper-pencil test that may be administered during the school day, either all at once (2 hours) or over three individual class periods (three, 40 minute sections).

Q:  How is ReadiStep scored?
Beginning with the 2012-13 school year, ReadiStep will be scored by converting a student’s raw score to a scaled score between 1-7 (0.1 increments).

Q:  Why is ReadiStep’s score scale 1-7 while the PSAT/NMSQT and the SAT score scales are 20-80 and 200-800 respectively?
ReadiStep’s score scale accounts for the lower skill levels of younger students.  Score scales for the PSAT/NMSQT and the SAT account for the higher skill levels of older students.  All three scales are linked, allowing for growth measurement and growth reporting over time.  For more information, please click here.

Q:  How soon after the ReadiStep test window will we receive our results?
Results are delivered to schools by December 10, 2012.

Q:  We previously administered the PSAT/NMSQT to our 9th graders. Is there an advantage to administering ReadiStep instead of the PSAT/NMSQT?
ReadiStep is more likely to accurately represent the knowledge and skill development 9th grade students learned as part of their 8th grade curriculum because it is based on middle school College Readiness Standards.

Q:  We would prefer to continue administering the PSAT/NMSQT to our 9th graders. May we do so?
Absolutely, although Maine DOE will not cover the cost of the PSAT/NMSQT for 9th grade. If your district would like to continue administering the PSAT/NMSQT to all 9th graders, please contact Mary Ellen Auriemma directly at for information and assistance.

Q:  Can we administer ReadiStep to our 8th graders?
Districts interested in administering ReadiStep to their 8th graders may do so but will be directly responsible for covering the costs. Please contact Mary Ellen Auriemma directly at for more information and assistance.

Q:  How do we request SSD accommodations for ReadiStep?
No approval process is required.  Please review the ReadiStep Guide to Nonstandard Test Formats for additional information.

Q:  How do we order ReadiStep?
ReadiStep ordering is now available.  Districts interested in taking advantage of the state’s offer to support your 9th grade ReadiStep administration may place their orders directly online at

*In the “Order Type” field on the Billing tab, please select Contract and enter Maine DOE in the Contract # field. By doing so,an invoice for payment will be sent directly to the Maine Department of Education. Failure to enter Maine DOE in the Contract #field will result in your district receiving an invoice for payment.

Districts interested in providing ReadiStep to their 8th graders may also place their orders directly online at  Please submit a separate order and payment method for any 8th grade tests.

The order deadline for schools/districts using bulk registration is September 14, 2012.

The deadline for all other orders, order changes, and/or order cancellations is September 21, 2012.

2 thoughts on “New options available for high school assessment

  1. I agree, Shawn. I hope (although I am not confident, after the “fiasco ending” of Local Assessment Systems in Maine) that the Smarter Balanced assessments are not primarily content/abstracted assessments. The FAQ page of the consortium sounds hopeful regarding performance tasks:

    “Smarter Balanced assessments will go beyond multiple-choice questions and include short constructed response, extended constructed response, and performance tasks that allow students to complete an in-depth project that demonstrate analytical skills and real-world problem solving.”

    Frankly, we were nearly at a breakthrough point– at an experimental or first-round level, anyway, with the early LAS– when the state-level terrors of cost, politics and complexity (and, in my opinion, an unnecessary overemphasis on “technical design” and “validity and reliability”) ratcheted back the will and leadership– and the plug was pulled, resulting in that giant sucking sound…

    Performance-based stuff is messy and it requires tough changes in instructional practices, but it’s the only way.

    We’ll see.

  2. The PSAT and SAT are not aligned with standards. These tests are not valid or reliable for anything more than they were designed: To determine which students are most apt to stay in college for 4 years. Why are these tests used to judge schools and the quality of teaching? We are still trying to figure out the skills necessary for success in the future. PSAT and SAT still focus too much on content (esp. science) and there is no feedback to schools on how well students are learning skills. How do you believe that the new “standardized” test will be a tool that really lets us move forward? The PSAT and SAT currently prevent schools from using the new approaches supported by research (project-based, problem-based, integrated courses, etc.) because we must prepare students for the test. When are we going to be able to focus more on skills and less on content?

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