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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Contact:Jacqueline Reis, 781-338-3115

Massachusetts Signs Contract with Measured Progress for Next-Generation MCAS

MALDEN - Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester announced today that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has signed a contract with Measured Progress of Dover, N.H. to collaborate on the development and administration of the Next-Generation MCAS.

Under the five-year contract, Measured Progress and its subcontractors, including Pearson Education North America, will build new statewide assessments unique to Massachusetts in English language arts, mathematics and science using items developed specifically for this assessment, as well as existing MCAS items and items licensed through the PARCC consortium. The initial version of the next-generation tests for English language arts and mathematics will be administered in spring 2017 to grades 3-8, with grade 10 tests coming in later years. The science tests at grades 5 and 8 and in high school will also transition to a next-generation version over the next several years.

"For almost two decades, MCAS has helped Massachusetts be a national leader in K-12 education, and we are pleased that this Next-Generation MCAS will allow us to continue to control our destiny and chart a strong course for the future," said Education Secretary Jim Peyser.

"This contract will keep Massachusetts in a leadership position by providing an updated and improved MCAS that is a 21st-century assessment," said Commissioner Chester. "The Next-Generation MCAS will continue the state's focus on critical thinking skills and will be offered in a format that acknowledges technology's role in students' lives, learning and future careers. My team looks forward to working with Measured Progress and Massachusetts educators to prepare this test for spring 2017 and beyond."

The contract announced today includes test construction and development, customer support for schools and districts, scoring and reporting. This state-based contract will return Massachusetts to the development and administration of a single set of tests that are specific to Massachusetts' standards and testing practices. The total five-year contract cost is $150.8 million, which will be covered using both state and federal funds. The annual contract costs of the Next-Generation MCAS tests are consistent with prior state assessments at about $30 million.

The new assessment will be designed to be given on a computer, but it will also have a paper and pencil version. As part of the state's transition to computer-based testing, students in grades 4 and 8 will take the computer-based version of the Next-Generation MCAS in spring 2017, and the goal is for all assessments to be delivered on computers by spring 2019.

Today's announcement is part of the plan that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved in November to build an assessment unique to Massachusetts and based on Massachusetts academic standards.

Since the Board's vote, Massachusetts-based committees and workgroups have convened to address many facets of the assessment development process, including related work in which educators are suggesting changes to the Commonwealth's English language arts and math curriculum frameworks.

While Measured Progress will be the primary vendor under the contract, Pearson will provide supporting services, primarily related to on-line testing technology. Department staff will continue their long-standing practice of contributing to and overseeing all aspects of work on the construction, production and administration of the new assessments. Massachusetts educators will also continue to play a significant role in the development process.

Massachusetts has given the MCAS, or Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, since 1998 to give parents, educators and policy makers an objective look at student, school and district academic achievement in core subjects.

Measured Progress, a not-for-profit organization, has been the vendor for the existing MCAS since 2005 and was one of two vendors that responded to ESE's request for responses.

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Last Updated: August 16, 2016
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