Assessing the assessment

The administration window for the Maine Education Assessment (MEA) for mathematics and ELA/literacy (grades 3-8) has come and gone, but the work is far from over for the Maine Department of Education.

A total of 542,896 online MEA test sessions were administered using a wide variety of devices and operating systems, all in a secure environment.

This was accomplished with the assistance of a task force of dedicated advisors and committed Maine DOE staff. The task force members and staff worked collectively and relentlessly in reaching goals for a new RFP after the passage of LD 1276. This summer-time effort carried on into the fall with the signing of a contract with Measured Progress in December. These task force members and DOE staff are to be commended for their dedication and commitment to the State and federal mandated statewide assessment process.

State Assessment and Accountability Director Charlene Tucker says, “With anything new, there are challenges to be worked through. Challenges shared were considered to be minor given a new test. As we learned of the types of issues being encountered, the Maine DOE and our contractors responded.”

That response included:

  • The Maine DOE communicated information about individual issues and resolutions to District Assessment Coordinators promptly.
  • The Maine DOE released ongoing guidance to advise schools on how best to respond to the types of challenges that were being reported.
  • As needed, staffing of the Measured Progress Maine Service Center was increased and prepared to address specific issues.
  • The Maine Service Center was authorized to unlock/re-activate student tests as soon as the technological issues were resolved so testing could resume.

Tucker goes on, “The Department takes note in particular that some have reported the testing time to be longer than what was estimated. The Department is collecting data about how long each student took to complete each test session. Now that the testing is completed, we will analyze this data. If we find most students needed more time to finish, we will have to think about how the test could be changed.”

The assessment team’s focus is now on designing a reporting system. In addition, the team will utilize the information gleaned over the past month to prepare for next year.

Public comments are welcome and may be addressed to Director of Assessment & Accountability Charlene Tucker at charlene.tucker@maine.gov.

Tucker says, “We appreciate the support of administrators, educators, parents, and students who collaboratively learned a new testing system and remain dedicated to our students’ learning. Theirs was a herculean effort.”

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