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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

2016 MCAS Sample Student Work and Scoring Guides

Using This Online Tool


Each page of this online tool contains student work samples and scoring guides for one grade level and one content area (e.g., Grade 3 Reading Comprehension).

The sample responses provided here are selections of actual student work from the spring 2016 MCAS administration. In order to protect individual students' privacy, all names and references of a personal nature have been altered or removed. Otherwise, the responses appear as the students wrote them.

Due to copyright restrictions, certain common English language arts reading passages are not able to be released over the Internet. Citation information is provided online; hard copies of the omitted passages are available by calling the Student Assessment Services unit at (781) 338-3625 and requesting a "Passage Packet."

How to Access Student Work in the Online Tool

  • In the Question Directory for Student Work locate the grade and subject of the MCAS student work you wish to access (for example, Grade 5 Mathematics).
  • Click on the link for the appropriate subject (for example, Mathematics). This will take you to a list of questions for which student work samples are available.
  • Select the question for which you wish to see student work.
  • When the page opens displaying the question you selected, scroll down to the "Scoring Guide and Sample Student Work" grid. Links to student work with the highest score points appear at the top of the "Score" column of the grid; score points linked to the lower-scoring student work follow in descending order.
  • Click on the score-point link to the student work you wish to view. To view additional responses, continue clicking on score-point links in the "Score" column of the grid, or click on the score-point links located at the bottom of each window that contains a student work sample.
  • In the "Description" column of the "Scoring Guide and Sample Student Work" grid, you will find the scoring criteria for each score point.
  • For ELA questions and writing prompts, each student work sample is accompanied by an annotation explaining in detail how that particular response was scored.

Scoring of Test Questions

Responses to open-response items, short-response items, and compositions written in response to writing prompts are scored individually. An overview of procedures for scoring these responses and compositions is presented in the MCAS fact sheet, "Scoring Student Answers to Open-Response Questions and Writing Prompts."

Printing Instructions

Printing the Questions and Rubrics
Select "Print View" from the bottom right side of any page. This view excludes extraneous navigation and graphic elements.

If you still have trouble, try printing in landscape format:

  • Select the "File" menu in your browser's tool bar.
  • Select "Print" from the File menu.
  • Select the "Properties" button and select to print landscape.
Printing the Samples
Select "Print Now" from the top right side of the page.

Due to the length of some of the samples, you may need to reduce the header and footer margins of the page in order to fit them on a single page.

How to reduce margins in Firefox:

  • Select the "File" menu in your browser's tool bar.
  • Select "Page Setup…" from the File menu.
  • From the Margins & Header/Footer tab, reduce the size of the top and bottom margins.

How to reduce margins in Internet Explorer:

  • Select the "File" menu in your browser's tool bar.
  • Select "Page Setup" from the File menu.
  • From the Margins section of the "Page Setup" dialog box, reduce the size of the top and bottom margins.

Optionally print on legal sized paper.

Test Administration Reference Materials and Tools

English Language Arts Composition - At least one English-language dictionary per classroom was provided for student use during ELA Composition test sessions.

Mathematics - During Mathematics testing, each student was provided with a tool kit (at grades 3 and 4), a Mathematics Reference Sheet (at grades 5-8 and 10), and/or an MCAS ruler (at grades 3-8).

During a portion of the Mathematics test at grades 7, 8, and 10, each student is allowed to use a personal calculator while answering test questions. If any student is not able to provide his or her own calculator with at least four functions and a square root key, one is provided to that student for use during those sessions. Test questions administered in non-calculator test sessions are indicated in this online tool with the icon No Calculator.

Science and Technology/Engineering - During high school Introductory Physics and Technology/Engineering testing, each student is provided with a formula sheet and a calculator. Each student is provided with a ruler during the Technology/Engineering test. Students may bring their own calculators for the Biology test, but a calculator is not needed for that test.

Current and former ELL students may use printed copies of bilingual word-to-word dictionaries during all MCAS tests.

Last Updated: October 13, 2016
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