Skip Maine state header navigation
Maine Schools and Students Receive First, Baseline Results from Redesigned MEA Tests
MEA School Reports Set Baseline For Student Achievement And Provide More Information Than Ever To Help Schools Meet New, Higher Expectations of Maine’s Learning Results
Maine’s Learning Results, enacted in 1996, describe the ends of learning in terms of what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. Commissioner Albanese stated, “These are the most rigorous standards and the toughest tests our students have seen. History tells us that our schools and students respond to higher expectations with higher performance. But it will take time, and the public needs to be patient and support schools as we grow our performance to higher levels over the next several years.” Albanese went on to say, "Maine people need to remember that Maine schools are among the best in the country, and Maine students rank at the top of every national test. But the new standards will move all children to higher levels of literacy they will need to succeed in the 21st century.”
The MEA tests produced individual student reports and school reports in Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Science & Technology, and Social Studies. In addition, the school reports include Health Education and Visual and Performing Arts results that are sampled only at a school level. The new student reports provide parents significantly more information than earlier MEA reports and, for the first time the test provides student scores in Social Studies and Science & Technology. Each school report contains a seventeen page analysis that displays results in four performance categories tied to the Learning Results standards: Exceeds the Standards, Meets the Standards, Partially Meets the Standards, and Does Not Meet the Standards.
The new reports describe performance on a scale from 501 to 580. On this scale, 20-point intervals are used to define each of the performance levels. All scores are reported on a 501-580 scale where:
1. Does Not Meet Standards
2. Partially Meets Standards
3. Meets Standards
561-580 Exceeds Standards
The old MEA was reported on a scale of 100-400 points, and neither the scores nor the performance categories were connected to standards.
Thousands of Maine educators and citizens participated in crafting Maine’s Learning Results. Hundreds of Maine educators and citizens created the new MEA tests and determined how student scores related to the performance standards.
Commissioner Albanese stated, “Parents and public will now have more information than ever about the performance of their children and their public schools. Parents can use this information to work with their child’s teachers to understand the child’s strengths and weaknesses, and support their child to achieve to higher levels. The public can use the information to track their schools’ progress toward Learning Results standards.”
Commissioner Albanese emphasized that with schools still early in the process of implementing new standards, a school’s proportion of students in the Partially Meets the Standards category as well as the work in the two performance levels above it can be viewed positively, as these students are on their way to meeting very rigorous standards. An initial challenge for all schools is to reach those students in the Does Not Meet the Standard category, so that virtually all students move toward higher levels over the long term.
Commissioner Albanese noted that the standards approach used in the new reports sets a steady target for schools and teachers to use in program planning to raise student performance. The new quality standards that define the performance expectations of Maine’s Learning Results will remain in place for at least five years. The new MEA reports emphasize the progress of students toward the achievement of agreed upon quality standards, and are a departure from the old normative reporting strategy that compared students with each other. Albanese said, “The ‘bell-shaped curve’ is gone with these new tests. The focus now is moving all students to higher levels of learning.”
In December, Maine was rated as the highest performing K-12 educational system in America, according to the National Education Goals Panel. Maine students have frequently scored at the top of the nation on national measures of student performance. Most recently, in 1998 Maine’s 8th graders ranked second in the country in both reading and writing, and Maine 4th graders were 4th in the country in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). In 1996 Maine’s 8th graders were first in the country in mathematics and science, and 4th graders were first in the country in math on the NAEP.
Commissioner Albanese stated that Maine should take great pride in its consistently strong educational performance relative to other states. However, the future will require much more sophisticated levels of learning for all citizens. Therefore, the Learning Results go beyond strong relative performance to raise expectations for all students. Despite Maine’s overall strengths, a significant minority of students has not demonstrated basic literacy in core subjects. High expectations for all students are essential to prepare citizens for a high quality of life in an increasingly complex society and economy. The new MEA gives us critical data on the students who are not reaching high standards, and how to move them up.
Full MEA results by school are available and can be downloaded from the MDOE website at http://janus.maine.gov/education/mea/edmea.htm. Data is in .dbf format and can be downloaded into Excel, Access, and other programs. Hard copies of data can be made available upon request.
Selected Observations From MEA Data
The following highlights reflect performance trends in the state and are examples of the types of data that can be found in school reports:
· 51% of the 11th grade students met or exceeded the standards in Reading, the highest performance level of all subjects and grades. If the students in the Partially Meets Standards are included, then 93% of the students are approaching or have met the acceptable standards.
· Students in grades 8 and 11 who use a calculator daily in their Math class out perform those with limited or no use of calculators.
· In 11th grade Math and Science, there is a very strong correlation between the number of high-level courses taken and high performance levels.
· Student performance, when analyzed by gender in 4th and 8th grade Math and 8th grade science, showed little or no difference between males and females. At grade 11 males showed a slight performance advantage in Math and Science. This continues a trend where females are strengthening their performance in these subject areas.
· Females outperformed males at all grades in Reading with the greatest difference occurring at the 8th grade level. This also continues the trend of females out performing males in Reading.
· Social Studies achievement was even for males and females at the 8th grade level, with a slight advantage for the females at the 4th grade and for males at the 11th grade.
· Of the 45,000 students enrolled in grades 4, 8 and 11, 94% of the students completed all sections of the MEA tests. Less than 3% of all students were totally excluded from the MEA tests due to an identified disability, while another 3% were partially excluded.