Maine DOE reminds educators of MEA administration resources, new trainings

The following Priority Notice was sent to District/System Administrators, School Test Coordinators and Technology Directors on March 2 to highlight resources from the Maine DOE to support the successful administration of the upcoming State assessment, as well as announce upcoming regional technical assistance sessions.

Dear District/System Administrators, School Test Coordinators and Technology Directors,

With the window for giving the new online Maine Educational Assessment (MEA) for Mathematics and English Language Arts/Literacy developed by Smarter Balanced opening in just two weeks, we want to make sure you have the resources you need to feel prepared for a successful test administration.

On our assessment website, you can find an extensive library of administration materials. With so many supports available, we wanted to draw your attention to a few including:

  • The Online Test Administration Manual, which includes information on the rules of online testing and ensuring security, testing time and recommended order of administration, establishing appropriate testing conditions, tasks to complete prior to testing, details of the actual testing administration, scripts for Test Administrators, and how to respond to any testing improprieties, irregularities and/or breaches.
  • Our Frequently Asked Questions, which provide answers to common queries on topics like roles for testing, participation requirements, paper-pencil vs. computer-adaptive testing, accessibility and much more.
  • A guide specifically outlining supports for English learners as well as the test directions translated into 17 different languages.

Some School Test Coordinators (SCs) have expressed frustration with the spreadsheets provided to assist with uploading student test settings. The two spreadsheets (i.e., studentsettings.xlsx and studentsettings.csv) are located in the TIDE/Student Information/Upload Student Settings/Download Template tab. At our request, our testing contractor, American Institutes for Research (AIR), is in the process of creating a set of instructions to better support the use of the spreadsheets mentioned above. Large schools may want to wait for those instructions in order to do a mass upload of student test settings. Other schools may prefer to individually enter the student settings for designated supports and accommodations into the TIDE system through the TIDE/Student Information/View/Edit Students tab. Student settings that were previously uploaded should be double-checked to ensure their accuracy.

We recognize the workload on SCs in preparing for the assessment. To support the sharing of the workload, the Maine DOE is allowing District/System Administrators (DSAs) to designate more than one individual in the role of SC where needed. Each of the designated SCs will receive TIDE login credentials enabling them to access the school-level test information system. DSAs must consider FERPA implications in designating SCs as they will have access to information about all students in the school, including assessment data that will be available in the Online Reporting System. It is important that one SC is determined to be the primary SC for each school and that the DSA is able to identify that primary SC. The primary SC is responsible for all testing activity in the school, including preparation of Test Administrators, resolution and/or escalation of any test security concerns, and final sign-off on the integrity of the testing process.

Additionally, we are offering upcoming regional technical assistance sessions for SCs (only one per school, please) that will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Presque Isle (March 4), Orono (March 5), Augusta (March 9) and Portland (March 10).  At these hands-on work sessions, we will offer assistance with entering student test settings (Designated Supports and Accommodations) into TIDE and explore the student assessment experience under a variety of test settings. Attendees may come at any time during the day but registration is required and can be completed by clicking here.

As always, please stayed tuned to our MEA for Mathematics and ELA/Literacy website and use the following assessment support contacts to let us know immediately if we can provide you any assistance:

AIR Help Desk
844-560-7814 or mehelpdesk@air.org

Andrew Wallace, Maine DOE Technology Consultant
meatech.doe@maine.gov

Charlene Tucker, Maine DOE Director of Assessment & Accountability
207-624-6827 or charlene.tucker@maine.gov

Nancy Godfrey, Maine DOE Acting Assessment Coordinator
207-624-6775 or nancy.godfrey@maine.gov

Sue Nay, Maine DOE Alternate Assessment Coordinator
207-624-6774 or sue.nay@maine.gov

Finally, we want to extend our thanks for all your hard work preparing to administer the new assessment. It is important to remember this year is a baseline which we will only build from in the future, both in terms of ease of test administration and student scores. As with any major change, we know there is some anxiety associated with this transition but we also know the great potential of online assessment to help us better understand where our students are academically so we can better support their college and career readiness.

Thanks for all you are doing,
The Maine DOE Assessment and Accountability Team