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Maine Schools Plan To Administer Revamped Standardized Tests, After Shelving Them During Pandemic

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State educational officials are looking to redesign the state’s standardized testing program, and plan to administer new tests for many students this spring.

Over the past decade, the state has shuffled through three different kinds of state-mandated standardized tests for math and language arts. And Janette Kirk, the Maine Department of Education’s chief of learning systems, says results often aren’t available for months, making it difficult for teachers and schools to use them.

Kirk says the state is negotiating with a vendor for new tests this spring that will turn around results much more quickly.

“So the goal of shifting our assessment focus immediately is to make sure educators have data at hand, to assist with that instructional decision-making in the classroom,” she says.

Kirk says the department has also begun working with educators to develop new standardized tests over the next few years that wouldn’t only focus on one subject, but would combine topics together and evaluate real-world skills.

“So that’s where that long-term discussion and partnership with the field is vitally important,” she says.

Last year’s standardized testing requirements were waived by the federal government because of the pandemic. Maine education officials say they’re planning to still administer tests this spring, but will reconsider if the federal government issues any new guidance over the next few months.