CAPE ELIZABETH — After 25 years of using the Maine Educational Assessment to test students in grades 3 through 8, the Department of Education will begin administering a new test this year.
The New England Common Assessment Program is a regional test that is used in New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and now Maine.
David Connerty-Marin, the communications director for the Maine Department of Education, said the MEA and NECAP are similar in format with comparable questions, but the tests have a few differences.
One difference is the timing of the test, he said. The MEA test was administered in March, and the NECAP will be given October 1. Because of the timing, students will be tested on materials from their previous year. The DOE will use the NECAP’s reading, writing and mathematics tests for students in grades 3 through 8, but will continue to use the MEA test for science.
The NECAP writing test has several writing prompts and multiple choice questions, unlike the MEA test. Last year the MEA writing question was discounted, leaving teachers and administrators with no data to evaluate.
Results from this year’s grades 3, 5, and 8 MEA tests are as follows.
Students in grades 5 and 8 showed improvements over last year’s students in the same grades, with scaled math and reading scores increasing one and three points, respectively, among fifth graders and five and one points among eighth graders.
Third graders, however, saw some decline: In math, six students did not meet standards compared to two last year, and in reading eight students did not meet standards compared to last year’s one. Scaled scores dropped four points in math and three points in reading among third graders.
Superintendent Alan Hawkins said Wednesday that he had only received the test results the day before, and had not had the opportunity to compare the yearly results. He said that aside from some issues with this year’s test at Pond Cove Elementary, which he said relate to special education students and will be examined by the Department of Education, results “look good, we’re doing fine.”
The DOE is expected to compare Pond Cove special ed students to similar students statewide to determine whether that group made the required annual yearly progress. The DOE will decide whether or not those students need further attention in order to make the required progress next year.
In general, South Portland students saw improved math scores compared to last year, while reading scores stayed about the same. This year’s third graders saw their scaled math scores increase by two points compared to last year’s class, while their scaled reading scores stayed the same.
This year’s fifth graders saw an increase of one point in their scaled math scores, and a decrease of one point in their scaled reading scores. Eighth grade math scores dropped three scaled points, while reading scores stayed the same.
Superintendent Suzanne Godin could not be reached for comment. She was in meetings all day Wednesday and on Thursday morning, according to her office.
Reading and math scaled scores rose slightly in third grade, by one point in each. In fifth grade, reading scaled scores also rose one point, while the eighth grade math scaled score remained the same. But scores fell by two points in eighth grade reading and by three points in fifth grade math.
Asked if there were any surprises, Superintendent of Scarborough Schools David Doyle said while nothing “jumped out” at him, he had only given the results a brief look because he’s busy preparing for a new school year.
“We will be looking at them a little more in depth, then reporting out to the (school) board,” he said.
He said it looked as though scores in math overall were better, but added that it is an area they “need to focus more attention on.” There is a new curriculum at the middle school level that is expected to improve students’ math skills, he said.
“Looking at the math data, while we do O.K., we’d like to do better,” he said.
Amy Anderson and Peggy Roberts contributed to this report. Sarah Trent can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 108 or firstname.lastname@example.org.