Maine-specific test will take less time away from classroom teaching
AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Education is pleased to be signing a contract today with Measured Progress, a nonprofit organization from Dover, New Hampshire. This contract is for the development and administration of the 2016 online, state summative assessment in English language arts (ELA)/literacy and mathematics for grades 3-8 and the third-year of high school. Maine has a long-standing history with Measured Progress and the Department is confident this spring’s assessment will take less time away from classroom instruction while adequately measuring students’ knowledge.
The initial contract is worth $4.14 million and includes subcontracts with Measured Progress’ partners, eMetric to deliver the test online, and the College Board to provide a school-day administration of the SAT. After the first year, Maine has the option to renew the contract for up to nine additional one-year terms.
Acting Education Commissioner Bill Beardsley states, “This is a sound and statistically-valid assessment aligned with Maine Learning Results and requires considerably less testing time than previous Maine assessments. It offers the re-designed SAT for high school students during the school day on April 12, which maximizes convenience for students and their families. Also, Maine has had a strong relationship with Measured Progress for decades, and they are the current contractor for the state science assessment.”
Measured Progress CEO Martin Borg comments the new program brings together expert capabilities to extend its commitment to Maine. “The Maine Department of Education and Measured Progress have been working together for more than 30 years,” he said. “Along with our partners, we look forward to continuing to provide Maine’s students, parents, and educators with assessment programs tailored to meet their needs. Measured Progress calls the assessment system eMPower Maine, which is the first assessment program for grades 3-8 that is linked to the SAT.”
Many Mainers have had questions about the annual standardized assessment. “We have heard what people are concerned about, and we feel that this contract addresses those concerns. The concerns included working with a short time frame in which to develop an effective assessment and possibly delaying or taking a year off from testing. Another concern has been the length of time needed to conduct the assessment,” says Beardsley.
Regarding the short window of time between now and the start of assessments this coming spring, Measured Progress has been developing this assessment system for many months already and now only needs to adapt it to a Maine-specific use.
“It’s important to note, there is no option to delay or take a year off from testing,” says Beardsley. “Annual testing is mandated by both state and federal law.” As recently as yesterday, December 2, the U.S. House of Representatives reaffirmed its commitment to statewide standardized assessments when it voted to pass the long-awaited replacement law for the No Child Left Behind Act. The new law maintains the requirement that all schools that receive federal money through this act must assess 95 percent of their students each year (in grades 3-8 and third-year high school) in order to receive this money. Maine schools receive more than $80 million annually through this law.
With this contract, the average time for a student to complete the 2016 spring assessment is just one percent of total classroom instruction, well below the federally-recommended threshold. In grades 3-8, the testing time will be six hours as compared to as much as 12 hours in previous years. Last year, many high school students spent a total of 12 hours taking the statewide assessment along with the optional SAT. This coming year they will be required to spend no more than four hours total — one third of the time spent this past year.
The Measured Progress proposal was one of five received in response to a Request for Proposals. The RFP specifications were guided by recommendations from the Standardized Assessment Task Force which included twenty educators from across the state and comments submitted by hundreds of other Maine educators.
Beardsley goes on to say, “The Maine DOE team worked diligently in collaboration with educators to secure this carefully designed, Maine-specific test. I joined the team in October and helped in keeping an eye on the budget, line by line. Deputy Commissioner Tom Desjardin and I both met directly with key people at Measured Progress and can say today, that Maine now works independently of any consortium, as we have a contract with a valued, proven partner.”
For more information, contact Director of Communications, Anne Gabbianelli at firstname.lastname@example.org or 624-6747 or 592-4439.