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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Next-Generation MCAS: Update and Review of Standard Setting Process

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
May 12, 2017

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At this month's meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, I will provide an update on our progress on the next-generation MCAS tests, including information about the current year's testing and a preview of the standard setting process that will take place in late summer of 2017.

At the time of the Board meeting, we will be nearing the end of the window for testing students in grades 3-8, and will be able to provide preliminary information on the first year of computer-based MCAS testing. We expect that over 250,000 students will have taken one of the tests on a computer by the end of testing season, including more than 90% of students in grades 4 and 8. (Schools were required this spring to administer the MCAS English language arts (ELA) and mathematics tests on computer for students in grades 4 and 8, barring exceptional circumstances.) Under the current plan, in 2018 schools will administer the MCAS ELA, mathematics, and science and technology/engineering tests on computer for students in grades 5 and 7, in addition to continuing computer-based testing in grades 4 and 8.

As testing winds down, we are turning our attention to refining our plans for the delivery of results to schools, districts, and parents, and to the standard setting that will take place this August. At the Board meeting, I will share with you details regarding the standard setting process, during which panels of educators are convened to review test items and student responses, make judgments about student performance through a facilitated process, and ultimately make recommendations to me regarding the appropriate cut scores corresponding to each level of achievement (Exceeding Expectations, Meeting Expectations, Partially Meeting Expectations, Not Meeting Expectations).

We will go through a more extensive standard setting process in 2019, when we have the first administration of the next-generation high school tests. The high school tests form the basis for the competency determination, which in turn is a requirement for a Massachusetts high school diploma. The standards for the competency determination are set by the Board itself in its regulations (603 CMR 3), which will need to be updated for the new high school assessment.

At the Board meeting I will also update you on Rhode Island's plan to administer the MCAS ELA and mathematics tests to approximately 70,000 students in grades 3 through 8, beginning in the spring of 2018. Details of this arrangement are still being worked out, but needless to say, I'm pleased at this recognition of our success in developing a high quality state summative assessment.

Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson, Associate Commissioner Michol Stapel, and Chief MCAS Analyst Bob Lee will join us for the discussion to answer any questions you may have.



Last Updated: May 17, 2017
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