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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System


The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) is designed to meet the requirements of the Education Reform Law of 1993. This law specifies that the testing program must

  • test all public school students in Massachusetts, including students with disabilities and English Language Learner students;
  • measure performance based on the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework learning standards;
  • report on the performance of individual students, schools, and districts.

As required by the Education Reform Law, students must pass the grade 10 tests in English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics and one of the four high school Science and Technology Engineering tests as one condition of eligibility for a high school diploma (in addition to fulfilling local requirements).

In addition, the MCAS program is used to hold schools and districts accountable, on a yearly basis, for the progress they have made toward the objective of the No Child Left Behind Law that all students be proficient in Reading and Mathematics by 2014.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What subjects does MCAS test?
  2. What types of questions are used on MCAS tests?
  3. How are test results reported?
  4. How are test results used?
  5. Is a ranking of district and town by MCAS scores available?
  6. Are all students required to participate?
  7. Can parents refuse their child's participation in the MCAS tests?
  8. How do students with disabilities participate in the MCAS tests?
  9. How do English Language Learners participate in the MCAS tests?
  10. What types of state-funded academic support programs are available for high school students or young adults who left high school without receiving a high school diploma?

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6. Are all students required to participate?

The Massachusetts Education Reform Law of 1993 mandates that all students who are educated with Massachusetts public funds participate in MCAS testing for their grades, including

  • students enrolled in public schools
  • students enrolled in charter schools
  • students enrolled in educational collaboratives
  • students enrolled in private schools receiving special education that is publicly funded by the Commonwealth, including approved and unapproved private special education schools within and outside Massachusetts
  • students enrolled in institutional settings receiving educational services
  • students in military families Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
  • students in the custody of either the Department of Social Services (DSS) or the Department of Youth Services (DYS)
  • students with disabilities (see Students with Disabilities)
  • students with limited English proficiency (see ELL Students)
  • students in high school (see High School Participation Requirements and Guidelines)

Home-schooled students are not required nor entitled by law to participate in MCAS. Foreign exchange students who are coded #11 under "reasons for enrollment" in SIMS are not required to participate in MCAS

For more information, refer to participation requirements.

Last Updated: March 5, 2013
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