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State Assessment FAQ

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: 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



MEA Math & ELA/Literacy

MEA Alternate MSAA

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: Is the 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.

Q: What is the testing time required for the online testing in Math and English Language Arts for grades 3-8?

A: This chart shows the testing time for each testing component. 

Test Section

Number of Sessions

Time per Session (min)







Writing and Language





80 (gds 3-5),

70 (gds 6-8)



3: 460 (7 hrs, 40 min)

4: 460 (7 hrs, 40 min)

5: 460 (7 hrs, 40 min)

6: 450 (7.5 hrs)

7: 450 (7.5 hrs)

8: 450 (7.5 hrs)

Q: Are practice test items available?

A: Sample test items are available here.

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

A: The assessment will be online.

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 testing window?

A: The spring testing window for grades 3-8 is March 19th – April 13th.  Your child's school will schedule testing within that window, and inform you of those plans.

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 year, can those scores be used in lieu of testing again on the "School Day Administration"? 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 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.

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 the state assessment day.

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

A:  No, the 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: The SAT will be on a School Day. Districts will not have a choice. 

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.

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.