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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Participation Requirements for Students in Grades 3-8 and 10

General Participation Requirements

The 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Law, state law M. G. L. Chapter 69, section 1I, mandates that all students in the tested grades who are educated with Massachusetts public funds participate in MCAS. This requirement includes the following groups of students:

  • students enrolled in public schools
  • students enrolled in charter schools
  • students enrolled in innovation schools
  • students enrolled in a Commonwealth of Massachusetts Virtual School (CMVS)
  • students enrolled in educational collaboratives
  • students enrolled in private schools who receive 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 who receive educational services from the district
  • students in military families (See the exception for students in grade 11 in the Student Participation Guidelines for the High School Tests and Retests section.)
  • students in the custody of either the Department of Children and Families (DCF) or the Department of Youth Services (DYS) (See the DYS and 45-Day Placements section below.)
  • students who are English language learners (ELLs) (See the exception in the Participation Requirements for ELL Students section.)
  • students with disabilities, including students with temporary disabilities such as broken arms (See the exception in the Participation Requirements for Students with Significant Disabilities section.)
  • students who have been expelled but receive educational services from the district
  • foreign exchange students who are coded as #11 under "Reason for Enrollment" in the Student Information Management System (SIMS) in grades 3-8 and 10

Students in grades 3-8 and 10 must participate in MCAS tests only for the grade in which they are enrolled and reported in SIMS. Students must participate in the same grade for all of the subject area tests; otherwise, results will be invalidated. Also note that students must respond to at least one question in each test section to be counted as a participant for accountability purposes. For more information on grade 10 participation requirements, see the Student Participation Guidelines for the High School Tests and Retests.

Participation Requirements for Students Educated in Alternate Settings

Home/Hospital Instruction and Other Settings

For the small number of students who are enrolled in a school but are unable to physically attend school, and therefore receive tutoring services from their district, every effort must be made to administer the MCAS tests to these students in school. If this is not possible, school principals must submit a request to test the student in an alternate setting off-site by using the form in each administration-specific Principal's Administration Manual.

Principals are encouraged to submit requests at least one week prior to testing. Requests must be submitted for approval for each test administration, even if approved for a previous test administration.

DYS and 45-Day Placements

For the small number of students who are enrolled in a school and are in the temporary custody of the Department of Youth Services (DYS) or are attending a temporary 45-day placement, every effort must be made to administer the MCAS tests at the student's placement.

The principal of the sending school is responsible for the following steps, as well as additional steps listed in each administration-specific Principal's Administration Manual.

  • contacting the placement to notify the director of MCAS participation requirements
  • confirming that the placement has been established as a site for testing and has a Department district and school code for MCAS testing purposes (If not, refer the facility's director to the Student Assessment Services Unit at 781-338-3625.)
  • requesting that the placement order materials (by calling the MCAS Service Center at 800-737-5103) to test the student, if the placement does not already have test materials
  • informing the placement of which test sections, if any, the student completed at school (Note: If a student participates in a section twice, the results may be invalidated.)


Last Updated: March 10, 2017
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