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Schools receive results of redesigned MEA tests

Cape Elizabeth Schools have received results of the redesigned Maine Educational Assessment (MEA).

For the first time, the reading and math achievement of all students in grades 3-8 is being measured by the MEA. Previously the MEA only tested grades 4 and 8 at the elementary level.

"This year’s MEA results will serve as baseline data for this new comprehensive testing system," said Superintendent Alan Hawkins in a news release..

The MEA was redesigned to measure all students’ progress toward meeting Maine’s Learning Results, as required by the federal "No Child Left Behind Act". At grades 4 and 8, the assessment continues to measure science and technology as well.

The new assessments provide schools with the first opportunity to look at individual school and statewide data for multiple, adjacent grades measuring Grade Level Expectations (GLEs) based on Maine’s Learning Results, Hawkins said. "The data will prove useful as schools continue to make data-driven instructional decisions on implementing Learning Results," he said.

"The MEA is a challenging test, composed of a combination of multiple-choice questions and items that require students to construct their responses," Hawkins said.

Scores are reported by the percentage of students in each of four achievement levels: Exceeds, Meets, Partially Meets, and Does Not Meet the Standards, as well as on a standards-based scale of 80 points.

As part of the new comprehensive system, several actions have occurred:

  • The MEA now consists of a new, more focused test design for all grades in response to feedback from the field to reduce the burden of testing.

  • Test items were focused on Grade Level Expectations based on Maine’s Learning Results.

  • Achievement Level Definitions were redefined and achievement standards were reset due to the GLEs and the new test design.

  • These new scores are the baseline data of new trend lines, and should not be compared to previous years.

To accommodate this new design, achievement standards had to be set at all grades. Prior to this year, MEA reported on performance standards which were established in 1999 and based on long-term targets of where Maine wanted students to be in the future. Since Maine’s Learning Results were organized to measure grade spans and the No Child Left Behind Act requires testing at all grades 3-8, Grade Level Expectations were derived from those grade span standards (K-2, 3-4, 5-8), and the MEA was redesigned to measure those GLEs in a focused and coherent manner.

"The information received as the result of the testing provides us with statistical evidence of student performance," Hawkins said. "Initial review points to the level of student performance compared with state performance. When we review this initial data, we look at the number of students performing at the 'Meets' and 'Exceeds' levels as compared with statewide performance," he said.

As an example, Hawkins said, 135 Cape Elizabeth students were assessed in Grade 3 reading. Of those, four students 'Exceeded the Standard' and 109 students 'Met the Standard', for a total of 113, or 84 percent, falling into those categories. Statewide, 65 percent met or exceeded the standard. In the 'Partially' or 'Does Not Meet' category, Cape Elizabeth had 22 third-graders, or 16 percent, compared to 35 percent statewide.

"These statistics demonstrate good performance by our third-graders in reading, but our concerns will remain with the 16 percent not meeting the standards," Hawkins said.

A spreadsheet prepared by the School Department summarizes student scores and provides comparisons. (Click here to download spreadsheet in pdf format) "As you can see, Cape Elizabeth students performed much higher than the state percentiles," Hawkins said.

SAT Scores

Historically, the MEA has also been administered at the 11th grade. This past year, the state changed its testing standards for 11th-graders from the MEA to the SAT college-entrance exam. The results of this evaluation have not been received from the Department of Education but should be available by mid-September, Hawkins said.