Mass.gov
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Go to Selected Program Area
Massachusetts State Seal
News School/District Profiles School/District Administration Educator Services Assessment/Accountability Family & Community  
 Student Assessment  Accountability, Partnership, & Assistance  Compliance/Monitoring >  
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>

National Assessment of Educational Progress

MCAS & NAEP Comparison

Massachusetts students currently participate in two testing programs that provide critical information to inform educational decision making about student achievement: the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The table below is meant to identify important similarities and differences between the MCAS and state-level NAEP assessments.

 MCASState NAEP
Primary purpose
  • To inform/improve curriculum and instruction;

  • To evaluate student, school, and district performance according to Curriculum Framework content standards and MCAS performance standards;

  • To determine eligibility for high school Competency Determination.
  • To compare student achievement in states and other jurisdictions;

  • To track changes in achievement of fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-graders over time in mathematics, reading, writing, science, and other content domains.
Who oversees
the assessment program?
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education U.S. Department of Education - National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
First year of testing The standard MCAS tests began in 1998. The MCAS Alternate Assessment began in 2001. While NAEP has conducted national assessments since 1969, state assessments began in 1990.
Impact of No Child Left Behind on Assessments Beginning with the 2005-2006 school year, all states must administer annual reading and mathematics tests in grades 3-8 and in one high school grade. All states must participate in NAEP assessments in reading and mathematics at grades 4 and 8 every two years, beginning in 2003.
Student participation All students in the grades tested must participate in MCAS. In each participating state, NAEP assesses a representative sample of students in the grades tested. In each state, NAEP selects roughly 2,500 to 3,000 students in each grade for each subject tested. To accomplish this, NAEP typically samples between 100 and 200 schools at both grades 4 and 8.
Are students with disabilities and LEP students tested? Yes. Students with disabilities may receive accommodations that are specified in their IEP plan and routinely used during testing. Students with significant disabilities who are unable to take the standard MCAS tests, even with accommodations, must take the MCAS Alternate Assessment (MCAS-Alt).

Limited English proficient (LEP) students are assessed, with the sole exception of LEP students in their first year of enrollment in U.S. schools. Schools have the option of administering the reading and English language arts tests and history and social science question tryouts to first-year LEP students.
Yes. Students with disabilities may receive accommodations that are specified in their IEP plan and routinely used during testing.

Limited English proficient (LEP) students are assessed unless the student has received instruction primarily in English for less than 1 school year and the student cannot demonstrate his or her knowledge of the subject to be assessed in English even with an accommodation permitted by NAEP.
Subjects tested Reading, English language arts, science, technology/engineering and mathematics, history and social sciences Reading, mathematics, science, writing
Grades tested 3-8, 10 4, 8, 12
Administration Dates March/April: Reading, English language arts

May/June: Science, technology/engineering and math, and history and social sciences
Late January through early March
Administration time While MCAS sessions are untimed, each test session is designed to take between 45 and 60 minutes. Each student tests for 50 minutes in one subject area.
Item Types Multiple-choice, open-response, short answer (math), writing prompts (ELA, grades 4, 7, and 10). Multiple-choice, short and extended constructed-response, writing prompts (writing).
Level of results reported State, districts, school, student State; district for Boston only
Types of scores reported Raw scores, scaled scores, performance levels Scaled scores, achievement levels
Generic performance
level definitions
Advanced: Students at this level demonstrate a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of rigorous subject matter, and provide sophisticated solutions to complex problems.

Proficient: Students at this level demonstrate a solid understanding of challenging subject matter and solve a wide variety of problems.

Needs Improvement: Students at this level demonstrate a partial understanding of subject matter and solve simple problems.

Warning/Failing: Students at this level demonstrate a minimal understanding of subject matter and do not solve simple problems.
Advanced: Superior performance.

Proficient: Solid academic performance for each grade assessed. Students reaching this level have demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter, including subject-matter knowledge, application of such knowledge to real-world situations, and analytical skills appropriate to the subject matter.

Basic: Partial mastery of prerequisite knowledge and skills that are fundamental for proficient work at each grade.
Comparative
performance data
2013 MCAS Tests:
Percent of Massachusetts students performing at or above Proficient

GRADE 4
English Language Arts: 53%
Mathematics: 52%

GRADE 8
English Language Arts: 78%
Mathematics: 55%
Science: 39%

2013 NAEP Tests:
Percent of Massachusetts students performing at or above Proficient

GRADE 4
Reading: 47%
Mathematics: 58%

GRADE 8
Reading: 48%
Mathematics: 55%
Science: Not administered in 2013



Last Updated: August 20, 2014
E-mail this page| Print View| Print Pdf  
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Search · Site Index · Policies · Site Info · Contact ESE