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Maine’s Comprehensive Assessment System (MeCAS)


2013-2014 Maine Comprehensive Assessment System Test Dates - PDF

State Assessment Transition to the Common Core in 2014-15




When the Maine State Legislature adopted the initial Learning Results in 1996, it established learning standards for all Maine students educated at public expense. The legislation also required a new system for assessing student progress resulting in the MeCAS program.  The Maine Educational Assessment (MEA) fulfilled this requirement for many years.  In 2009, Maine joined New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island as a member of the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) to assess reading, writing, and mathematics in grades 3-8. 

The Comprehensive Assessment System is designed to serve three purposes:

  • inform and guide teaching and learning;
  • monitor and hold educational units accountable to achieving Maine’s learning standards; and
  • certify achievement of Maine’s learning standards as articulated in Chapter 131 legislation.


The newly structured MeCAS program has several components:


Maine Educational Assessment (MEA)


Grades 5 and 8, Science

The Maine Education Assessment (MEA), for students in grades 5 and 8, provides individual student scores reported for science.

New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP)


Grades 3-8, Reading and Math; Grades 5 and 8, Writing

The New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) provides individual student scores in reading and mathematics for all students in grades 3-8, with additional student scores in writing reported at grades 5 and 8.  (As noted above, the MEA will continue to provide science scores reported at grades 5 & 8.)

Maine High School Assessment (MHSA)


Grade 11, Reading, Writing, Math, and Science

The Maine High School Assessment (MHSA), for students in grade 11, provides individual student scores reported for critical reading, mathematics, writing, and science.

Personalized Alternate Assessment Portfolio (PAAP)


Grades 2-7, 10, and 11, Reading and Math; Grades 4, 7, and 11, Writing; Grades 5, 8, and 11, Science

Designed specifically for students with significant cognitive disabilities, the Personalized Alternate Assessment Portfolio (PAAP) is the alternate to Maine’s required state assessments (NECAP, MHSA, and the PSAT/NMSQT).  The PAAP is a fully implemented academic assessment that provides the basis for achievement and accountability reporting.

Pre-SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT)


Grades 10 and 11, Reading, Writing, and Math

The PSAT/NMSQT, administered to all students in Maine in their second and third years of high school, is intended to help prepare students for the SAT, while also serving as the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship program.  While scores from the assessment are not reported for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) data, information gleaned from PSAT results is vital to educators, providing valuable diagnostic information about student learning, and informing teaching and instruction in all three content areas assessed. 



ACCESS for ELLs® (Assessing Comprehension and Communications in English State to State for English Language Learners) is an English language proficiency test administered annually in Maine to all English language learners (ELLs) in kindergarten through grade 12 who have been identified as being limited English proficient (federally referred to as limited English proficient [LEP] students).  ACCESS for ELLs® meets the federal requirements of assessing ELLs’ proficiency levels in the domains of speaking, listening, comprehension, reading, and writing. ACCESS for ELLs® provides reliable, valid, and useful information on the proficiency levels and progress of ELLs in acquiring academic English.  ACCESS for ELLs® English language proficiency standards are aligned to Maine’s Learning Results academic content standards.

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)


Since 1969, the mission of National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) has been to collect, analyze, and produce valid and reliable information about the academic performance of students in the United States in various learning areas.  In 1990, the mission of NAEP was expanded to provide state-by-state results on academic achievement.  The No Child Left Behind Act directs all schools receiving Title I funds to participate in NAEP assessments as needed.


Federal Status of Maine’s Standards and Assessment System


As required under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), each state was required to submit evidence to the United States Department of Education (USDE)  that documented that the state has “an assessment system that produces valid and reliable results”.  Maine first received USDE approval status of the state’s standards and assessment system in reading and mathematics in April of 2008. The approval applied to all components of the state assessment program: the Maine Educational Assessment (MEA), the Maine High School Assessment including the SAT (MHSA), and the Personalized Alternate Assessment Portfolio (PAAP).

States are required to submit additional documentation to USDE for federal review whenever significant changes are made to either the state’s testing program or the state’s academic content standards. Maine has submitted evidence of two changes to its academic content standards: the Maine Learning Results were revised and the changes were adopted into statute as the Revised Maine Learning Results: Parameters for Essential Instruction, and Maine joined the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) which resulted in further changes to the state’s academic content standards in reading, mathematics and writing.

The current status of Maine’s standards and assessment system as determined by the USDE system can be found at:

Information concerning the achievement of Maine’s students, including disaggregated data, is included in the testing results for each Maine school which are posted by assessment in the links to the left. Maine provides State assessments in the English language only. Maine does not provide native language versions of the State assessments for limited English proficient students.




updated 2/16/12 -SAM