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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Update on the Next-Generation MCAS Project and Review of the English Language Arts and Mathematics Standards
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
May 13, 2016


At the May 24, 2016, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting, I will provide an update on the development of the next-generation MCAS assessment and the associated review of our English language arts (ELA) and mathematics standards. Here are some of the highlights:

  • As I reported on May 6, we received two proposals for the next-generation MCAS testing contract. The two bidders, American Institutes for Research and Measured Progress, are both non-profit organizations with extensive experience in large-scale assessments. We have assembled a procurement review team to evaluate each proposal in detail. The review team includes staff from the Department's student assessment, curriculum and instruction, and digital learning offices; three educators from Massachusetts school districts; one representative from the Department of Higher Education; and two faculty members from institutions of higher education. The Department's legal and procurement offices and the secretariat information technology office have each assigned a technical advisor to support the review team.

  • The Board's assessment oversight committee will meet on Monday, May 23, at 3:30 pm in Malden. Department staff will begin reviewing with the committee the recommendations for test design based on the feedback from our various workgroups. As always, all Board members are welcome to attend the committee meeting.

  • Massachusetts is working with districts' to expand their capacity to deliver digital learning, including online assessments. MassIT recently received approval for $1.7 million in funding from the Universal Service Administrative Company, which administers the E-rate program on behalf of the Federal Communications Commission. The funds will partially reimburse school districts for wireless infrastructure work completed under the Commonwealth's Digital Connections Partnership project. Overall, Massachusetts school districts have requested a total of $48.6 million in E-rate reimbursements for this school year, of which $42.4 million has been committed and $16.7 million disbursed to date.

  • The Department has assembled a panel comprised of K-12 educators, curriculum specialists, and higher education faculty to review the English Language Arts and mathematics standards that the Board adopted in adopted in 2010 and published in 2011. The panel will review the standards and comments received through our survey tool, and make recommendations to refine the 2010 ELA and mathematics standards based on lessons learned during Massachusetts' implementation over the past five years. Enclosed is a list of the panel members.

  • The Department announced the creation of a webform to allow educators and others across the state to comment on the standards and suggest improvements. To date, more than 400 responses have been received.

  • The Department, in conjunction with the Executive Office of Education, has issued a request for proposals for an independent consultant to assist in the evaluation of the standards. I hope to have the consultant selected and on board by the end of this month.

The Board's vote in November 2015 signifies our commitment to high-quality curriculum standards and assessments, developed by Massachusetts teachers for the benefit of our nearly one million public school students. Educators from across the Commonwealth, supported by staff from across the Department, are fully engaged in this effort. Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson and I would be pleased to respond to any questions at the May 24 meeting.


List of ELA/Mathematics Review Panel Members

Last Updated: May 16, 2016
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