GorhamSchool District

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Assessment » Assessment Introduction

Assessment Introduction

The Big Picture: How are our students assessed?

Gorham students are assessed through both external tests (such as the MEA, SAT, STAR360, or NAEP) and internal classroom-based and/or grade level assessments.
Current External Testing Conducted Within our District: Nationally normed or criterion-referenced assessments given to students throughout the state or country.
According to the Maine Department of Education, "The Maine Comprehensive Assessment System (MeCAS) provides information about the academic progress of students, schools, and the state as a whole. This system includes:
  • National and international assessments that help us interpret the success of Maine’s students in comparison to students in other states and nations: and
  • State assessments, known as the Maine Educational Assessments (MEA), measure the progress of Maine’s students toward the content standards adopted for Maine students. 


Along with other local assessment instruments and/or teacher-developed classroom assessments, these assessments can help educators, parents, and educational leaders to understand how well Maine’s schools are educating, how well Maine’s students are learning, and where additional support may be needed.


The Maine Educational Assessments (MEA) include required assessments in Mathematics, English Language Arts (ELA)/Literacy, Science and English Language Proficiency. Both state and federal laws require that all students participate in state assessments in designated content areas at designated grades. Schools, districts, and states are accountable for achieving a minimum participation rate of 95%.


Generally, the MEA for 2016-17 remain the same as those administered in 2015-16, with a few minor, but important, improvements. 


  • The 2016-17 MEA general assessment in Mathematics and ELA/Literacy for grades 3-8 will again be delivered online with eMPowerME. For the 3rd year high school level, the ‘redesigned’ SAT will again be delivered in 2017 with paper/pencil.
  • The 2017 MEA alternate Mathematics and English Language Arts/Literacy will continue to be the MSAA assessment administered online to students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in grades 3-8 and 3rd year high school. Paper/pencil and scribe options are available through IEP decision making. The test delivery will change somewhat in 2016-17 as the test takes a step toward stage adaptive administration.
  • The MEA ACCESS for ELLs measures the English language proficiency of students identified as English learners. ACCESS for ELLs is an online test for grades 1-12 and a paper-pencil test for Kindergarten. The MEA Alternate ACCESS measures English language proficiency for English learners with significant cognitive disabilities and remains a paper-pencil test."
~ NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress): This assessment is a administered every 2 years in February to a percentage of randomly-selected students at selected statewide sites in grades 4, 8 and 11 in the areas of reading, math and science. Scores are reported at the state level only - not individually by students, schools or districts.

~ PAAP (Personalized Alternate Assessment Portfolio): Offered at grades 2-7 and 2nd and 3rd year high school for reading and mathematics; at grades 5, 8, and 3rd year high school for science; and at grades 4, 7 and 3rd year high school for writing. PAAPs will be completed (during the ìteaching yearî beginning with Grade 2 in Reading and Math) in conjunction with agreed upon accommodations through the IEP process.

~ PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test): Given to 10th and 11th grade high school students in October of each school year.

~ NWEA This early literacy, reading, and math assessment system serves as an universal screening, identifies students in need of enrichment, and monitors growth. A universal screening is an initial step in recognizing the students who may face some learning challenges. The assessments are nationally normed, computer adaptive, and provide immediate information on the strengths and areas of need of each student. Kindergarten through sophomores take the assessments 2-3 times per school year.
WIDA ACCESS for ELLs for all K-12 Enrolled English Language Learners is an assessment for English Language Proficiency. All K-12 English language learners (ELLs) in Maine, including recently arrived ELLs, must be assessed for English language proficiency by participating in the WIDA ACCESS for ELLs during the testing window of December to February of each school year. Those students who arrive after the testing window has closed must be assessed with another English language proficiency assessment in order to count as participating in the NECAP reading test. A recently arrived ELL is an ELL who has arrived in the United States for the first time on or after September 1, 2008.
Local Assessments:
There are two types of assessments that are created and implemented locally:

Formative Assessments: Inform instruction with specific & timely feedback
  • Aligned to daily or weekly learning objectives
  • May types: teacher observation (listening, body language), student self-assessment (vote with thumbs, traffic lights), student work (exit ticket, graphic organizers), collaborative work (think/pair/share, jigsaw groups)
  • May or may not be tracked in the gradebook
  • Results indicate need for reteaching and/or readiness for summative classroom assessments
Summative Assessments - Evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit by comparing results against some standard or benchmark
  • Aligned to course or grade-level performance indicators
  • Many types: story, essay, test, project, poster, speech, debate, lab, discussion, movie, report, skit, etc.
  • Tracked in online gradebook and converted to a 1 - 4 and/or 0 - 100 scale for reporting
  • Can be common grade level assessment: test given to all students within a given grade level in a specific subject area. Typically developed by a team of teachers, who align the assessment with the standards presented through a given unit of study