Public Comment Period for Alternative Science Waiver Application Now Open

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is seeking 30 days of public comment from October 31 – November 29, 2019, on a waiver application (waiver from §8401(b) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015) to the U.S. Department of Education (USED). The request seeks a waiver from publicly reporting student alternate science test data from the Spring 2020 assessment administration.

The U.S. Department of Education requires state educational agencies, when seeking waivers from statutory or regulatory requirements, solicit public comment on the application, respond to public comments, and provide evidence of the available comment period. A copy of the letter seeking waiver from §8401(b) of the ESEA as amended by ESSA can be downloaded with key elements of the request included below:

Federal program affected by the requested waiver

Section 1111(h) of the ESEA, as amended by the ESSA, requires State and LEA report cards to include information on student achievement on the academic assessments in reading/language arts, mathematics, and science described in section 1111(b)(2) at each level of achievement (as determined by the State under section 1111(b)(1)) for all students.

Maine’s 2020-2021 ESEA Data Dashboard (Report card) will continue to publicly report general state assessment results for mathematics, English language arts, and science and will publicly report alternate assessment results for mathematics and English language arts. Maine is seeking a waiver from public reporting for the alternate science assessment only. Maine will continue to report the alternate science assessment results to parents through individualized student reports (ISRs).

Maine will continue to meet all other reporting requirements. Maine specifically requests a waiver from the public reporting of alternate science assessment performance only.

Sections impacted include:

  • Section 1111(b)(2)(B)(iv)
  • Section 1111(b)(2)(B)(xi) (disaggregation of alt. science data by subgroup)
  • Section 1111(h)(1)(A)
  • Section 1111(h)(2)(iii)

Impact to Student Achievement

There will be no impact to assessing student achievement as all eligible students will continue to participate in the alternate science assessment where applicable. The waiver will permit Maine to not publicly release student alternate science assessment achievement scores. The Maine Department of Education will only report participation rates related to the administration of the alternate assessment in grades 5, 8, and the third-year high school during the 2020 spring administration. Maine is committed to moving towards increased compliance with the assessment peer review for an alternate assessment.  During the 2021 spring assessment administration, Maine will participate in the MSAA on-line Operational alternate assessment.  Standard setting and post equating in the summer of 2021 would allow for reportable student achievement levels and scores that fall.


The Department will actively monitor the delivery of the paper-based assessment through an established monitoring process. Test administration will follow all test administration policies and protocols. Schools will be provided ISRs available for bulk download in order to share student performance with parents/guardians or caretakers.

 Continuity of Services to Students

The vendor for MSAA will provide  Expanded Performance Expectations (EPEs) based on the Next Generation Science Standards for grades 5, 8, and third-year high school.  Teachers will have an opportunity to begin implementing the EPEs during the 2019-2020 school year, in preparation for the on-line Operational Field Test in 2021.

 Public Comment

Maine has solicited public comment regarding a request for a waiver from public reporting. This public comment was announced through the Departments Newsroom, social media accounts and through relevant Listservs. Public comment was solicited between October 31st and November 29th, 2019 for a period of 30 days. A summary of comments and the Department’s response is attached with the waiver request. All comments, in support of or against the waiver request should be submitted to Janette Kirk at

Timeline for Implementation

Date General Science Alternate Science
September 2019 Survey educators regarding science assessment modes
October 2019 Convene RFP Writing Team
November 2019 Develop contract for Science Alternate Assessment paper-based test (2020 administration) with MSAA.
December 2019 Execute Science Alt. Assessment contract with MSAA.
January 2020 Release general Science assessment RFP
Spring 2020 Administer MEA Science assessment Administer paper-based Alt. Science assessment
Summer 2020 Proposed award of general science contract
SY 2020-2021 Item Development
Spring 2021 Field test new general science assessment Implement operational field test of online assessment
Submit waiver for public reporting of science data Submit waiver for public reporting of alt. science data
Summer 2021 Completion of post equating and standard setting
SY 2021-2022 Item Development
Spring 2022 Field Test (year 2) Implementation of operational alt. assessment
Spring 2023 Operational assessment Operational alt. assessment (year 2)

Further information related to this notice can be obtained from Janette Kirk, Chief of Learning Systems at