College and Career Readiness
Requirements for the Educational Proficiency Plan (EPP) - Questions and Answers
Educational Proficiency Plan
- Is an Educational Proficiency Plan (EPP) mandatory for every student who does not meet the new Competency Determination (CD) standard?
Yes. Starting with the class of 2010, an EPP is required for every student who has not scored at least 240 on the Mathematics and/or English Language Arts MCAS grade 10 tests/retests. The EPP should be developed for the subject area(s) in which a student did not score at least 240. There is no EPP for science and technology/engineering.
- Can EPP coursework and assessments alone be used to satisfy the CD requirements?
No. Students must also meet or exceed the Needs Improvement threshold (a scaled score of at least 220) on the English Language Arts and Mathematics grade 10 MCAS tests (or be awarded an MCAS Performance Appeal for that subject matter).
- What is an EPP?
An EPP is an educational planning tool to be developed for the subject area(s) in which students did not score at least 240 and includes:
A review of the student's strengths and weaknesses based on MCAS and other assessment results, coursework, grades, and teacher input;
The courses the student will be required to take and successfully complete in grades 11 and 12 in the relevant content area(s); and
A description of the assessments the school will administer to the student annually to determine whether s/he is making progress toward proficiency.
School districts have the option of including additional EPP requirements for individual students, such as school day attendance and participation in academic support programs.
- Does the EPP requirement apply to students who do not score at least at the Proficient level in Science and Technology/Engineering?
No; however, starting with the class of 2010 and beyond, students do have to score at least 220 on a discipline-specific high school Science and Technology/Engineering MCAS test to earn a Competency Determination.
- Is it possible for students to "fail" their EPP?
Yes. Students can "fail" by not successfully completing required courses in the relevant content area(s) in the 11th and 12th grade and/or not participating in the annual assessment identified in their EPP. Students not completing their EPP are considered to have not completed their competency determination.
- What is the definition of "successful completion" of a course?
"Successful completion" of a course means, at minimum, that the student has earned academic credit for the course under the school district's standards for awarding academic credit. The school district may establish additional criteria for successful completion of a course required by a student's EPP.
- What are the consequences for a student who does not fulfill the EPP requirement?
A student who does not fulfill the EPP will not meet the Competency Determination standard, which is a condition for high school graduation.
- What is the time span of courses required for an EPP?
Students scoring below the Proficient level are required to take coursework in the area(s) in which they did not score Proficient. These courses should be one year-long or the equivalent and based on high school level standards in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Students can obtain credit for this coursework based on any generally available modality of course-taking in the district, including on-line and credit recovery coursework that awards a year-long credit equivalent.
- Should students with an EPP take remedial courses?
No. The Department encourages students with EPPs to take challenging courses that prepare them for college and a career. Most of these courses will be the "usual" coursework taken by an 11th and 12th grader. EPPs must include courses designed to move students toward proficiency on the grade 10 standards, but also on the grade 11 and 12 standards and beyond. Some students who score below 220 or its equivalent on MCAS may need additional support; however, for most students the EPP should not prescribe remedial courses.
- What is the relationship between Individual Student Success Plans (ISSPs) and EPPs?
Starting with the class of 2010, students who score below 220 on the grade 10 ELA and/or Mathematics tests will have an EPP instead of an ISSP.
- What is the relationship between Individual Learning Plans (ILP) and EPPs?
Because the ILP is developed by the student with a school mentor and includes course-taking information as well as documentation of course grades and assessment results the ILP may be used as an EPP.
- Is a student required to fulfill the EPP requirements if he/she was originally a member of the class of 20032009, has met all local graduation requirements, and is no longer in school, but has not yet earned a Competency Determination (CD)?
No. Students are not required to fulfill the EPP requirements if they were originally members of the class of 2009 or an earlier (2008, 2007, 2006...), and they have met all local graduation requirements prior to December 31, 2009, but have not yet earned a CD (scored at least 220 - Needs Improvement - on the ELA and Mathematics MCAS).
- Are students required to be on an EPP if they have met all of their local high school graduation requirements in the year 2010 or later (2011, 2012, 2013...), but have yet to score at the Needs Improvement level (at least 220) on the 10th grade ELA and/or Mathematics MCAS tests/retests?
These students do not need to continue to be on an EPP as long as they have successfully completed the coursework and annual assessments identified in their EPPs. Students may continue to retest on the ELA and Mathematics MCAS until they score at least 220 (Needs Improvement) on both, in order to earn their CD required for a high school diploma. In order to earn a CD, students must also score at the 220 (Needs Improvement) level on one of the high school level Science and Technology/Engineering MCAS tests.
- Is a student with disabilities who continues in school after grade 12 and is projected to remain enrolled until 22 required to be on an EPP?
No. A student with disabilties who continues in school after grade 12 and is projected to remain enrolled until 22 is not required to be on an EPP.
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Assessment Component of the EPP
- What are the EPP assessment options?
School districts may use one or more of the following four assessment options during the 2015-16 school year to determine if a student is making progress towards or meets the proficiency standard: 1) Accuplacer, 2) locally developed end-of-course assessment in English language arts and/or mathematics; and 3) grade 10 mathematics MCAS/EPP Test forms especially designed for the EPP for which scoring will be done at the local level 4) MCAS retests for those students who are eligible (in most cases students scoring below 220 and transfer students).
The March 2016 ELA retest may also be used for any student who is on an Educational Proficiency Plan.
The MCAS/EPP Tests and MCAS retest are the only instruments available to determine whether a student on an EPP has met the proficiency standard; other assessments will assess whether students are making progress towards proficiency while continuing to successfully complete the coursework detailed in their EPP in 11th and 12th grade. Note that taking the annual assessment is required, but scoring at a particular level is not.
- If the locally developed end-of-course assessment is selected as an option to determine whether a student is making progress toward the proficiency standard, what assessment approaches can be used?
School districts have the option of selecting comprehensive end-of-course exams or a combination of quarterly, mid-term, and final exams that cover the year-long course content. Other assessment options include junior/senior projects or a portfolio. The end-of-course assessment must include an entire year of student work and be based upon the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework standards in the assessed subject area.
- What assessment option will be provided to determine whether a student has met the proficient standard?
At this time, the MCAS/EPP Tests and MCAS retest are the only instruments available to determine whether a student on an EPP has met the proficient standard. Other instruments may be identified in the future.
- If a student does not meet the 240 threshold and is placed on an EPP, can s/he still participate in the MCAS Retest?
Grade 11 and 12 students who have not yet earned a scaled score of 240 on the ELA test and are attempting to meet the CD requirement in ELA may take the March 2016 ELA MCAS retest. For mathematics, only students who score below 220 will be able to participate in the Mathematics MCAS Retest. Please see Principal's Administration Manual for details on retesting policy and procedures.
- Who is not eligible to participate in the MCAS EPP Test?
A student who has not reached the Needs Improvement level (not yet scored at least 220) on the Mathematics MCAS grade 10 test or subsequent retests is not eligible to participate in the MCAS/EPP Test.
- When will the MCAS/EPP Test forms be available?
The MCAS/EPP Test for mathematics will be temporarily posted in schools' MCAS EPP DropBoxes (in DropBox Central) in the Department's Security Portal from April 11-May 6, 2016 for the school year 2015-2016 MCAS/EPP Testing opportunity. Please note that no one will see the MCAS EPP DropBox in the Security Portal unless they are assigned that security role (on the school level). The high school principal or their designee for the MCAS/EPP Tests should contact their Directory Administrator to be assigned a security role for the MCAS EPP DropBox. See the Department's Directory Administrator website for a list of Directory Administrators and related information.
- Is there a prescribed test administration window for the MCAS/EPP Tests?
Yes. There will be one test administration period for school year 2015-2016. The window is April 25-May 6, 2016. The Test Administration Manual (posted to the security portal) will provide details on testing windows, test security, and ethics requirements. The MCAS/EPP Test forms may not be used for practice or review.
- What is the content and structure of the mathematics MCAS/EPP Test?
The mathematics MCAS/EPP Test is aligned to the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework content standards and mirror the MCAS test blueprints except for the distribution of item types: the mathematics MCAS/EPP test includes only multiple choice questions (no short answer or constructed response The test consists of two sections of 30 questions - one is a calculator session and one is a non-calculator section.
- How does a school gain access to Accuplacer if it is chosen as an assessment option?
All Massachusetts public state and community colleges and the University of Massachusetts currently use Accuplacer as part of their placement process for many students.
Testing should be done in partnership with a community or state college. Accuplacer testing can be used as an early college assessment for high school students. The assessment results can be used for access and readiness for college.
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General EPP Questions for Students with Disabilities
- Do students who are on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and score below 240 need an EPP?
Yes. The IEP is a required document outlining how the student's disability affects his/her learning, and the services and support that are provided in response to the student's disability and concomitant learning needs. In most cases, the IEP may be inappropriate to detail course selection since the services and supports in the IEP are mandated services under special education law. The Department suggests that a review of the IEP prior to the development of the EPP will be helpful in considering the student's strengths and weaknesses in the learning environment. For some students it may be appropriate to simply reference the IEP when writing the section of the EPP seeking information on the student's strengths and weaknesses in the area that the EPP is addressing. For many students with disabilities the Transition Planning Form may be an effective tool.
- Do EPP requirements apply to a student who attends an Approved Massachusetts In-State Day or Residential Private Special Education School Program and has not scored at the Proficient level on the spring grade 10 ELA and Mathematics MCAS?
Yes. A student who attends an Approved Massachusetts In-State Day or Residential Private Special Education School Program and is in the class of 2010 and beyond and has not scored at the Proficient level (at least 240) needs to have an EPP. A student who has not scored in the Needs Improvement level (at least 220) needs an EPP that should also include interventions in preparation for the MCAS Retest(s).
- Who is responsible for developing the EPP for a student in an Approved Massachusetts In-State Day or Residential Private Special Education School Program?
The public school district that placed the student is responsible for writing the EPP in consultation with the approved Massachusetts In-State Day or Residential Private Special Education School.
- Who determines whether a student in an Approved Massachusetts In-State Day or Residential Private Special Education Program has satisfied his/her EPP?
The principal or head of school (or his or her designee) of the school that will issue the diploma determines whether a student has satisfied his or her EPP. The executive director of an Approved Massachusetts In-State Day or Residential Private Special Education Program may serve as the designee of the principal of a sending school.
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- Do students who are in a public institutional setting (such as DYS care or custody or temporary hospitalization) need an EPP if they have not scored at the Proficient level (at least 240) on the grade 10 ELA and Mathematics MCAS tests or retests?
Yes. These students need to have an EPP. A student who has not scored in the Needs Improvement level needs an EPP that should also include interventions in preparation for the MCAS retest(s).
- Who is responsible for developing the EPP for a student in a public institutional setting?
The public school district that would award the student's high school diploma is responsible for writing the EPP in consultation with the entity providing the educational services for the student.
- Who determines whether a student in a public institutional setting has completed his/her EPP?
The principal or head (or his or her designee) of the school that will issue the diploma determines whether a student has satisfied his or her EPP. This should be done in consultation with the entity providing the educational services for the student, as appropriate.
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EPPs for Transfer Students and Other Special Situations
- What are the options for students in the class of 2010 and beyond who transfer into a Massachusetts public school from a private school or school in another country/state to meet the competency determination?
Districts who have students transferring in the junior year or beyond should take special care in ensuring that students are enrolled in coursework that will allow them to complete their EPP requirements in the event that they do not score Proficient on the first MCAS test they participate in.
A junior who transfers into a Massachusetts public school may take the fall or spring MCAS retest in ELA and Mathematics. If the student scores at the Proficient level s/he would have met the Competency Determination. An EPP must be developed for the subject area(s) in ELA and mathematics in which the student did not meet or exceed a scaled score of 240 for the remainder of the junior year and senior year or until the student demonstrates proficiency (meets the CD).
A transfer student who wishes to be eligible for the Adams Scholarship and/or the Koplik Certificate of Mastery must take the grade 10 spring MCAS in ELA.
A junior transfer student in the Class of 2010 who earns a scaled score of 220 to 238 on the fall or spring retests is eligible to participate in the mathematics MCAS/EPP. The MCAS/EPP is a state developed test locally scored on which a student may score at the Proficient level and meet the CD in mathematics.
- If a student from the class of 2010 or beyond drops out of school, what are the requirements for earning a high school diploma?
A student from the class of 2010 or beyond, in addition to meeting the local graduation requirements, must satisfy one of the following two conditions in both English language arts and mathematics to earn a Competency Determination (CD):
meet or exceed the Proficient threshold scaled score of 240 on the English Language Arts and Mathematics grade 10 MCAS tests, or
meet or exceed the Needs Improvement threshold scaled score of 220 on the English Language Arts and Mathematics grade 10 MCAS tests and fulfill the requirements of an Educational Proficiency Plan (EPP). An EPP must be developed for the subject matter area(s) in English language arts and mathematics in which students did not meet or exceed a scaled sore of 240.
A student from the class of 2010 or beyond shall, in addition to meeting the above requirements, take a discipline specific high school Science and Technology/Engineering MCAS test (Biology, Chemistry, Introductory Physics or Technology/Engineering) and shall meet or exceed the Needs Improvement threshold scaled score of 220 on the test in order to satisfy the requirement of the CD.
- Does a student from the class of 2010 and beyond who drops out of high school and enters an Adult Diploma Program or Alternative Education Program require an EPP?
Yes, unless the student already has earned a score of at least 240 on the MCAS ELA and Math exams. Any other student from the class of 2010 and beyond who is seeking a Massachusetts public high school diploma and enters an Adult Diploma Program or Alternative Education Program will require an EPP.
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- Who designs, implements, and coordinates EPPs at the school/district?
The principal/headmaster is responsible for assigning staff to design, implement, and coordinate EPPs.
- What is the recommended timeline for developing or updating a student's EPP?
For the class of 2010 and beyond, EPPs should be developed or updated prior to the beginning of the fall semester of the student's junior/senior year in order for students to be scheduled into the relevant content area(s). For high schools with 4x4 block schedules, EPPs should be developed or updated no later than the beginning of the second semester of the student's junior/senior year.
- How often should a student's EPP be reviewed?
A student's EPP should be reviewed annually and modified or updated as needed.
- Who determines if a student has successfully completed an EPP?
The high school principal/headmaster or designee is responsible for determining whether a student has successfully fulfilled all the requirements of an EPP.
- What is the role of the student and parent/family in the development of an EPP?
Students and parents/guardians are encouraged to be active participants in the development of the EPP.
- Will the Department provide an EPP template? May districts use their own model for the EPP?
The Department has provided sample templates for use by school districts. Districts may use their own model or software/portal tools to develop and manage student EPPs provided they include the criteria listed for the EPP.
- What evidence should be maintained to verify that a student's EPP has been successfully completed?
Documentation that includes the course(s) required by the student's EPP, and also the assessment that was used and date of administration. Students who have completed an EPP should be reported in SIMS as a graduate with a Competency Determination.
- Is the EPP part of a student's temporary or permanent record?
The EPP is part of the temporary record, in accordance with 603 CMR 23.06(3).
- How long should a student's EPP remain on file?
The EPP should not be kept longer than seven years after the student withdraws, graduates, or transfers to another school district. School districts should retain the EPP for the full seven-year period and offer the student a copy upon transfer, graduation, or withdrawal.
- Should a student's EPP be included as part of the record when the student transfers from one high school to another?
Yes, the EPP should be part of the student transfer record.
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