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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: November 30, 2015

Assessment Decision for Spring 2016 (Deadline to Respond: December 18)

As you know, on November 17 the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved the Commissioner's recommended plan for transitioning to a next-generation MCAS test. As part of the plan,

  • districts that administered PARCC in grades 3–8 in spring 2015 will do so again in 2016, and
  • districts that administered MCAS in grades 3–8 in spring 2015 have the opportunity to administer MCAS again in spring 2016, or may choose to administer PARCC for grades 3–8 only.

Superintendents in districts administering PARCC in spring 2016 must also:

  • Select the test format (computer-based or paper-based).
  • Determine the number of students in grade 8 who will participate in the PARCC Algebra I test instead of the PARCC grade 8 Mathematics test.

Superintendents and directors of outplacements were sent an email on November 23, 2015, from Public school districts and most outplacements will enter assessment decisions via an online survey, and others will return a response via email.

The deadline for submitting responses is 12:00 p.m., Friday, December 18. However, districts with extenuating circumstances may request a short extension. To do so, districts must email and receive a confirmation by email before 12:00 p.m., Friday, December 18. Decisions will be considered binding. For districts that do not respond by the deadline (or by the date for an extension), the Department will assign the schools the same test and mode that was administered in 2015.

Important Updates Regarding the Spring 2016 MCAS Test Administration

In accordance with the Board's vote, the Department is making the following modifications to the spring 2016 MCAS tests:

  • Each MCAS test in grades 3–8 ELA and Mathematics will be supplemented with a small number of PARCC items.
  • In ELA, one of the PARCC items will require students to write in response to text. The Department suggests that districts familiarize themselves with PARCC items by utilizing PARCC practice tests and released items from the 2015 administration.
  • Because of this change for ELA, the Department has decided to eliminate the ELA Composition in grades 4 and 7 in spring 2016. Schools and districts may release these prescribed dates on their calendars. The ELA Composition for grade 10 will continue to be administered.
  • The MCAS ELA administration window for grades 3–8 will begin and end one week later to accommodate changes to the test and allow for additional instructional time. The new ELA administration window for grades 3–8 will be March 28 to April 12. Please note that grade 10 ELA testing dates will remain the same.

MCAS-Alt Portfolios-in-Progress training sessions

Registration is now available for Portfolios-in-Progress, a series of statewide portfolio review sessions for educators who are conducting the MCAS-Alt. Flyers with registration information have been faxed to schools and districts.

Review sessions will be offered on January 6, 7, 13, and 14, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

An "Introduction to MCAS-Alt" will also be offered for teachers who were unable to attend this session in October on January 7 and 12, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

See the flyer for locations for these sessions.

Correction Regarding Grade 10 Science and Technology/Engineering Results on Spring 2015 MCAS Parent/Guardian Reports

Approximately 15,000 grade 10 Parent/Guardian reports for the spring 2015 MCAS test administration incorrectly identified the high school Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) test that students had taken and previously passed when they were in grade 9 in 2014. Students who passed the spring 2014 STE test in Introductory Physics, Chemistry, or Technology/Engineering were incorrectly reported on the spring 2015 STE reports as having previously passed the Biology test. Students' Competency Determination status for high school graduation and their earned scaled scores and achievement levels were reported correctly. Edwin Analytics has been updated to reflect the actual STE test students took in spring 2014.

Important Dates

  • December 4: Spring 2015 PARCC Translated Individual Student Report shells delivered to districts. A sample shell for each translated language is available on Avocet under the Reporting heading.
  • Mid-January: MCAS November retest scores will be available electronically
  • Mid-January: MCAS November retest ELA Composition images will be available electronically
  • Late-February: MCAS November retest Parent/Guardian Reports delivered to districts

Additional Resources

View HTML Page
Updated Resource Guides for MCAS-Alt in ELA, Mathematics, and STE


Subscriber Information

Principals, MCAS test coordinators, PARCC test coordinators, special education directors, and ELL directors receive this update based on contact information submitted to the Department. To change your email address or to add another staff member, please follow the instructions below:

  • Public school districts, public schools, charter public schools, collaboratives, approved private special education schools: submit the new email address to your District-Level Directory Administrator.
  • Test sites, adult education programs, out-of-state schools, SEIS-DYS programs: go online to the EOE Information Technology web page (select "District/School Information Update" as the subject) to submit your update (be sure to include your District and School Code).

In addition to this update, PARCC districts may find the biweekly PARCC bulletins to be useful.

We welcome your feedback at

Last Updated: December 1, 2015
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