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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Participation Guidelines for the High School Tests and Retests

Competency Determination

All Massachusetts students who are seeking to earn a high school diploma must meet the Competency Determination (CD) standard, in addition to meeting all local graduation requirements. To earn their CD, students must either earn a scaled score of at least 240 on both the grade 10 MCAS ELA and Mathematics tests or earn a scaled score between 220 and 238 on both tests and fulfill the requirements of an Educational Proficiency Plan (EPP). In addition, students must earn a scaled score of at least 220 on one of the high school Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) tests.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted unanimously on October 25, 2016 to implement the 10th grade next-generation MCAS in spring 2019 (for the class of 2021). Members of the class of 2021 are currently eighth graders and will take the eighth grade next-generation MCAS this year, giving them some experience with the next-generation version before encountering it as a graduation requirement. Students in the class of 2020 and prior classes will take the legacy 10th grade tests to meet their high school competency determination.

A Student's Right to Participate in High School Tests and Retests

Students who are eligible according to the guidelines below have the right to participate in high school MCAS tests and retests as follows. Retests in ELA and Mathematics are offered in November and March, and students may participate in STE tests in February (Biology only) and June (Biology, Chemistry, Introductory Physics, or Technology/Engineering) each year.

Individuals may continue to participate in ELA and Mathematics retests and STE tests after leaving high school. Adults who want to earn a high school diploma and have not yet met the testing requirements of the CD may participate in testing at the high school they most recently attended, another high school, or an adult/external diploma program.

High school students with disabilities who are unable to participate in standard MCAS tests, even with accommodations, can satisfy the CD requirement if they can demonstrate in their MCAS Alternate Assessment (MCAS-Alt) portfolio a level of achievement comparable to that of a student who has met the CD requirement by taking the standard test. See the Educator's Manual for MCAS-Alt for more information.

High School Students in Military Families

Principals should be aware of the CD policy for high school students in military families. If a high school student in a military family moves from another state and enrolls in a Massachusetts public high school in grade 11 or later, the district may, in lieu of having the student participate in MCAS retests, submit to the Department alternative evidence or information that demonstrates that the student has met the CD graduation standard in each required content area.

Students in grade 11 may wish to participate in the spring grade 10 ELA and Mathematics tests and the high school STE tests for scholarship purposes. Parents/guardians and students should be provided with information about the available options Download PDF Document  Download Word Document.

Download PDF Document
Participation Guidelines for the Spring 2018 MCAS ELA and Mathematics Tests and the June 2018 MCAS High School STE Tests
Download PDF Document
Participation Guidelines for the November and March Retests and the February Biology Test


Last Updated: April 11, 2018
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