LEWISTON — Standardized testing in Maine last year was “worthless,” Lewiston School Superintendent Bill Webster said Friday as the state announced a new test would be given this year.

“More than one teacher did not feel it was appropriate for students on many fronts,” Webster said.

The “Smarter Balanced” Maine Educational Assessment was used only for one year, then tossed out by lawmakers.

Those scores cannot be used to improve curriculums, said Auburn Curriculum Director Shelly Mogul.

The Maine Department of Education says the replacement test, “Measured Progress,” will be better. Time will tell, Webster said.

Lewiston parent Karen Richard-McClure of Lewiston said last year’s test was “a dud. I fear the next one will be, too.” She was among parents and teachers who called last year’s test unfair, too long and too confusing.

Test scores released this week to the Sun Journal show:

* In 2013-14 in Lewiston, 50 percent of students were proficient (or at grade level) in math. Last year, between 14 and 25 percent of Lewiston students were proficient in math.

* Two years ago, 56 percent of Lewiston students were proficient in reading. One year ago, between 21 and 34 percent were proficient in reading.

* In Auburn grades three through eight in 2013-14, between 44 and 62 percent of students were proficient in math; last year, between 18 and 44 percent were proficient. Eleventh-grade scores fell from 43 percent to 14 percent between the two years.

* Auburn’s grades three through eight reading scores were between 55 percent and 68 percent proficient. Last year, they were between 28 and 49 percent proficient. Meanwhile 11th grade math scores fell from 35 proficiency two years ago to 25 percent last year.

Educators cautioned against drawing conclusions from the two years of scores because they come from different tests measured in different ways.

Last year’s test used Common Core standards which were more rigorous than the year before, Auburn’s Mogul said.

“We knew that,” she said. Reading passages and math problems were more complex, she said. For that reason, comparing the two years isn’t valid, Mogul said.

A new test this year means Maine will have three years of different tests. Mogul said she’s not saying Smarter Balanced was a great test, but she is frustrated with how quickly the test was axed after school departments invested time and money getting ready for it.

“Now we’re right back to square one,” she said. Not knowing when the test is to be given this year makes her nervous. “It’s frustrating to be back in that spot again.”

McClure-Richard said many Lewiston parents last year initially didn’t know they had the right to opt out of testing. When they found out, opt-out numbers grew to 394 out of about 5,200 students. Among those opting their children out of tests were teachers.

“What does it say when our own teachers are opting their children out?” McClure-Richard said. Teachers know there’s too much testing and scores don’t reflect what children can do, she said.

Lewiston teachers’ union leader Sammie Garnett said she’s concerned about a rushed timeline for implementing the new test. She hopes it will be a useful teaching tool, “but given the experience of last year, I’m reluctant to predict this outcome.”

The state’s new test is supposed to be shorter and more fair, Webster said. Whether it will be “are open questions,” he said.

People are waiting for sample questions, he said. Like last year, Webster expects some parents will opt out. The more who opt out, the less valid the scores are, he said.

“Hopefully, there’ll be family support for students taking this,” Webster said. “It comes down to perceived appropriateness and fairness.”

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