Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

MCAS Next-Gen Development Process and Timeline

There are real benefits to building a next-generation MCAS that makes use of the current MCAS as well as the best innovations from PARCC. First, the state will benefit from a large pool of previously developed PARCC and MCAS items, including items designed to take advantage of the capabilities of computer-based testing, like the ability to incorporate video and other tools.

Secondly, Next-Generation MCAS will create a sense of coherence and continuity for the field. There will be one online platform for managing test administration and delivering test questions for all Massachusetts grades and subjects, rather than PARCC for some subjects and MCAS for others. In addition, all state assessments will have a similar look and a single customer service center/portal, and all reporting activities will be housed in Edwin Analytics and on DESE's website.


January 2016 — Informational updates to Assessment Oversight Committee of Board of Elementary and Secondary Education begin

February 2016 — Advisory workgroups start to meet

March 2016 — DESE issues request for proposals for a testing contractor

July 2016 — DESE awards new MCAS contract

Summer/Fall 2016 — Test development begins

Spring 2017 — Next-Generation MCAS administered on paper and computer

Spring 2019 — Next-Generation MCAS administered exclusively on computer (with paper versions as accommodations)

The development of Next-Generation MCAS will focus on:

  • Combining PARCC, MCAS, and newly developed items into new ELA and math tests
  • Creating stronger alignment to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks
    • Introducing writing in response to text at all grades
    • Developing and implementing new types of items that more deeply assess the standards
    • Assessing Massachusetts-specific standards
  • Developing a consistent set of performance standards across all grades
  • Phasing in computer-based testing
  • Developing an appropriate sequence of tests for high school to gauge college and career readiness
  • Setting standards for the 10th grade Competency Determination (CD) tests in English language arts and math, beginning with the class of 2020, to provide reliable feedback on whether students are on track for success after high school. (The current MCAS remains a requirement through the class of 2019.)

Massachusetts will maintain control over assessment planning and decision-making related to test design and development, standard setting, policies for students with disabilities and English language learners, turnaround time for reporting test scores, and item release policies.

And with all state-level test development, local educators will remain involved and strongly invested in the processes of creating and reviewing Next-Generation MCAS test questions and items.

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.