Department provides clarification on assessment read aloud function

The following Priority Notice was distributed on Wednesday, March 25 to Maine Educational Assessment for Math & ELA/Literacy District/System Administrators and School Test Coordinators providing them clarification on read aloud functions on Apple devices as well as a reminder about a weekly conference call during which the Department is providing an update on the test, answering questions and sharing best practices.

It has been brought to our Department’s attention that students working on Apple iPads and MacBooks have access to a read-aloud function known as “speak selection” or “speech” and have been taught to use it as an appropriate learning tool. This notice is to clarify the limits on this function specifically during testing.

In the online testing environment, efforts are made to manage what supports are available to which students for which parts of the test. In the case of the MEA for Mathematics and ELA/Literacy, text-to-speech is an embedded support that can be designated for a student who can benefit from that support. For students with that designation, the text-to-speech support can be provided for the mathematics assessment and for parts of the ELA/literacy assessment but not for the reading passages. Having the reading passages read to a student is an accommodation which is much more restricted and available only to students with that accommodation (text-to-speech or read-aloud) specified in their Individualized Education Program (IEP).

The speak selection/speech function on iPads and MacBooks is external to the MEA testing system and is not controlled with respect to which parts of the assessment it is able to read. Test Administrators, therefore, need to ensure that students without a specific accommodation permitting reading passages to be read aloud do not have access to this function during the adaptive part of the ELA/literacy assessment.

In your school, if there are any students without a text-to-speech or read-aloud accommodation who used the speak selection/speech function during the CAT portion of the ELA/literacy assessment, please contact Charlene Tucker immediately at 624-6827 or charlene.tucker@maine.gov to determine an appropriate resolution.

Reminder of Weekly Assessment Call: Additionally, we’d like to remind you to join us tomorrow (Thursday, March 26) for our weekly assessment conference call. Participants in last week’s call with Acting Education Commissioner Tom Desjardin and other Maine DOE assessment and technology staff reported finding the conversation extremely valuable in providing answers to questions and surfacing assessment administration best practices.

As a result of your feedback, we have moved the call to 3 to 4 p.m. Please join us by dialing (877) 455-0244 and using conference code 6540808455. Questions can be sent in advance to communications.doe@maine.gov.

Thank you for all your continued hard work,
The Maine DOE Assessment and Accountability Team