AUGUSTA (AP) – Countering a U.S. Education Department rejection of Maine’s student testing under the No Child Left Behind Act, state Education Commissioner Susan Gendron has submitted new arguments and asked for a meeting with federal officials.

At issue is Maine’s SAT exam given to all 11th-graders. The federal government says the SAT doesn’t meet NCLB standards.

It will, Gendron said Tuesday, once more math and science questions are added this spring. “I’m extremely confident that this is going to work.”

Giving SAT exams to all 11th-graders will continue, she said.

In a letter to the federal Department of Education, Gendron said she showed why the federal government withholding $113,883 is unwarranted. She asked that Maine’s system be re-designated as “approval pending,” and said Maine expects to have a system for school year 2006-07.

Last month, the federal Education Department notified Maine that because of the nonapproval finding, the state is subject to a compliance agreement and a $113,883 reduction in federal funding.

Nebraska and Maine were the only states to have their testing systems rejected outright, but most states fell short and may lose money without improvements.

The Education Department said 34 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico had major problems with the tests, which were supposed to be in place in the just-ended school year.

Gendron said using the SAT is a “bold” step to help encourage more Maine students to go to college.

Maine has been publicly recognized for its high standards and is pursuing an aggressive agenda to boost higher learning, Gendron said. Maine has been recognized by the National Governors Association and the Gates Foundation, having been twice awarded Honor States grants to pursue this work, Gendron pointed out to federal educators.

Maine needs to show that the SAT aligns with and assesses Maine’s Learning Results in reading and mathematics, something that Maine will prove, she said.

– Staff writer Bonnie Washuk contributed to this story

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