State Assessment FAQs

This page is designed to help families understand details related to Maine's state assessments.

Do you have a question not addressed below?  Use this form to submit it privately.

Questions related to:
General Assessment
Grades 3-8
High School/SAT

(This page is adapted from the Maine Dept. Education page.)

General Assessment


Q: Should my child take the tests?
A: Our goal is for every student to engage in these assessments and put forth their best effort.  While it is true that State and federal laws require that we test all students in grades 3-8, and those in their third year of high school, for us it means more.   The results of these tests help us to inform our programming for students, reflect on our teaching, and they serve as one of the many ways that we are accountable to our community.  Having all students complete the assessment ensures that we are in compliance with our use of federal Title IA funds, money we use to support at-risk learners.  Lastly, students at the High School are given an opportunity, without charge, to receive an official SAT score.

Q: Why did Maine drop the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium? 

A: The legislative enactment of LD 1276 An Act to Improve Educational Assessments of Maine Students, approved by the governor on June 16, now Private and Special Law 2015, Chapter 10, “Directs the Department of Education to terminate the State’s membership in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.” The discontinuation of membership in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium means that we will not be able to use the Smarter Balanced Assessment in future years.

Q: What are the names of all the new tests and the content/grade level each covers?

A: Each Maine Educational Assessment (MEA) content area assessment must have an equivalent alternate assessment (for students with documented significant disabilities).

General Education Alternate Grades

MEA Math & ELA/Literacy

(Measured Progress and College Board - SAT)

MEA Alternate MSAA (formerly NCSC) 3-8 & 3rd year high school
MEA Science MEA Alternate Science PAAP 5, 8, 3rd year high school
ACCESS for ELLs (English Language Learners)

Alternate ACCESS for ELLs

(English Language Learners)



Q: How similar/different will this be to the Smarter Balanced?

A: The new assessment will still measure Maine’s College and Career Readiness Standards and will still include a variety of item types (multiple choice/selected response, short constructed response, extended constructed response). However, none of the test items are from Smarter Balanced and the testing platform will be new/different.


Q: Is the new assessment aligned to the Common Core?

A: Yes. Since 1997, Maine has had the Maine Learning Results as its State standards for eight content areas and periodically updates them to ensure they are aligned with the evolving expectations of colleges and careers in the 21st century. The College and Career Readiness Standards (those which are assessed through our standardized testing) were most recently updated in 2011 to include Common Core as the standards for English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics, better preparing our students for success in college, career and civic life by creating deeper, more rigorous and clearer expectations for learning. 


Q: Please explain the state and federal requirements to test all students.

A: The Maine DOE is required by Maine Statutes 20-A, Section 6209, and by the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act Section 111l(b)(3) to assess all students in grades 3-8 and at one point in high school in the content areas of mathematics and English language arts (ELA)/literacy.  

Q: Can you clarify state law and federal law regarding opt-out? Can you clarify a process/procedure for families wishing to opt-out? (Posted 12/11/15)

A: Both Maine State Statues and federal law require that “each student must be assessed by means of a statewide assessment…".  Additional legal information regarding “opting-out” with citations in the respective federal and state laws can be found here.   If you have concerns about your child's participation in the assessment, please contact your child's school principal.


Q: Can you clarify penalties for districts/schools that fall below the participation requirement? 
A: The federal regulations state: If an SEA (the Maine Department of Education) fails to comply with the assessment requirements in the ESEA, ED (the federal Department of Education) has a range of enforcement actions at its disposal.  These include sending a written request to the SEA that it come into compliance, increasing monitoring, placing a condition on the SEA's Title I, Part A grant award or its ESEA flexibility request, placing the SEA on high-risk status, issuing a cease and desist order, entering into a compliance agreement with the SEA to secure compliance, withholding all or a portion of the SEA's Title I, Part A administrative funds, and suspending, and then withholding, all or a portion of the State's Title I, Part A programmatic funds.


Similarly, each LEA (district) that receives Title I, Part A funds assured that it would administer its Title I, Part A program in accordance with all applicable statutes and regulations. If an LEA fails to comply with the assessment requirements in the ESEA, the SEA has a range of enforcement actions similar to those of ED at its disposal. These include but are not limited to sending a written request to the LEA that it come into compliance, increasing monitoring, placing a condition on the LEA's Title I, Part A grant award, adjusting the LEA’s risk assessment score, entering into a compliance agreement with the LEA to secure compliance, and withholding all or a portion of the LEA's Title I, Part A funds.


Grade 3-8


Q: What is the content area testing time required for the online grades 3-8?

A: This chart shows the ESTIMATED testing time for each component by grade. This is not a timed test and student should be provided with a reasonable amount of time to complete each section.


Test Section Number of Sessions
Estimated Testing time per Session (minutes)
5 6 7 8
Writing (SR)
Direct Writing
Appx. Total Testing Time (min)


Q: How do these times compare to last year's Smarter Balanced assessments?
A: Last year's tests were expected to take between seven and seven and a half hours.  This year's tests shoudl take less than 6 hours.


Q: Are practice test items available?

A: Practice test items will be available here.


Q: Will the new assessment be paper-based or online? 

A: The 2016 Mathematics and ELA/Literacy assessment will by online computer-based.


Q: Will the grades 3-8 include a writing component at every grade level?

A: Yes, there will be a writing component at each grade 3-8 and also 3rd year high school.


Q: What is the spring 2016 testing window?

A: The spring 2016 testing window for grades 3-8 is proposed to be 4 weeks March 21st – April 15th.  Your child's school will schedule testing within that window, and inform you of those plans.


Q: As it is proposed to use a test bank of items for grades 3-8 already established by Measured Progress, where have these items been used/field tested?

A: The eMPower™ content that will appear in the Maine Mathematics and English Language Arts/Literacy assessments have been field tested in eight states, but not Maine.


High School/SAT


Q: What do we do about our students receiving fee waivers for this school day SAT?

A: As the SAT is the required assessment for 3rd year high school for Math & ELA/Literacy, there is no fee for taking the test. For students receiving assistance through free and reduced lunch program, there are additional fee waivers for sending scores, Q&A Service discount, college application fees, etc.


Q: If students took the SAT at another scheduled time already this 2015-2016 year, can those scores be used in lieu of testing again in the spring on April 12, 2016? And, can such students opt out of the test without it being detrimental to the school's scores and ratings?

A: Unfortunately, this is not a possibility. The School-Day SAT on April 12 will serve as the state assessment. Each school’s participation rate depends on students participating in that school-day administration, so participation rate would be affected. Another important point is that the tests prior to April would have been an earlier version of the SAT that is somewhat different from the re-designed SAT that will be administered on April 12.


Q: What is the content area testing time required for the SAT?

A:  The following table shows the testing time for each component of College Board’s SAT. The SAT is a timed test. For students without accommodations, the test should be taken in one sitting. The total testing time, including the essay portion of the SAT, is 3 hours and 50 minutes.


Revised SAT Component Time Allowed (min.) Number of Questions/Tasks
Writing and Language



Q: Will the State will be paying for the Official SAT Online Course?

A: There is no College Board SAT Online Course this year. All SAT training for students is being offered through Kahn Academy prep program


Q: Are international students allowed to take the school-day SAT?

A: The Maine DOE provides the state assessment program to all students whose education is provided at Maine public expense.  If international students are part of a student exchange program, they are considered Maine’s public school students during their stay. If they are enrolled in Infinite Campus State Edition (ICSE) in as third year high school/grade 11, they are expected to participate in the testing program.


If students are here through privately paid tuition, the publically funded SAT is not available to them. They are not allowed to register/pay individually and take the SAT on 4/12/16.


Q: Will non-3rd year high school students be allowed to take the SAT during the school day administration on April 12th?

A:  No, the April 12th school day SAT is for enrolled 3rd year high school students only.


Q: Will the SAT be on a school day or Saturday? Will districts have a choice?

A: Districts will not have a choice. The SAT will be on a School Day Tuesday April 12th with School Day make-up Wednesday April 27th.


Q: Will the new SAT be paper/pencil or computer based?

A: SAT 2016 will be paper-based. It is anticipated that SAT 2017 will be computer-based.


Q: Will the 3rd year high school/SAT include a writing component?

A: Yes, there is a writing component and the essay in the redesigned SAT is NOT optional.


Q: Will the state be paying for students to take the test in March or May?

A: No. The school-day SAT that will be funded and required by the Department, is scheduled for Tuesday April 12th with make-up on Wednesday April 27th.

Q: Is this a contract with Measured Progress AND College Board together or separately?

A: The contract is with Measured Progress, who sub-contracts with College Board.


Q: Will the SAT be included in the (accountability) report card for Maine schools?

A: Yes, the SAT be included in the (accountability) report card for Maine schools.


Q: If the SAT is given during the school day, and not on Saturday, can these scores be used for college applications?

A: Yes, SAT scores can be used for college applications.

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