Student Assessment Update: October 27, 2016- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: October 27, 2016

Contact Information

Student Assessment Services
Phone: 781-338-3625

Latest Updates from Student Assessment Services

Pre-Approved Graphic Organizers and Supplemental Reference Sheets now available for use on MCAS Grades 3–8 tests by Students with Disabilities

New ELA graphic organizers and mathematics and science and technology/engineering reference sheets have been developed by the Department for use by students with disabilities who are participating in spring 2017 "next-generation" MCAS tests in grades 3–8. These are based on the 2011 Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and on the knowledge and skills being tested by the "next-generation" MCAS tests. Students who use these tools for MCAS testing must have accommodation A9 (from the Accessibility and Accommodations Manual for the Spring 2017 MCAS Grades 3–8 TestsDownload MS WORD Document) listed in their IEPs or 504 plans. These pre-approved graphic organizers and reference sheets may not be altered for use on spring 2017 MCAS tests and replace similar individualized tools that had been submitted in prior years for the Department's approval.

Students with disabilities in high school whose IEPs or 504 plans list MCAS Accommodation 20 may continue to submit individualized graphic organizers, checklists, and reference sheets for Department approval using the High School MCAS Accommodation 20 Cover Sheet Download MS WORD Document.

Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) Question Tryout for Grades 5 and 8

As part of the STE transition plan, the Department will be recruiting schools to participate in a short test administration to try out new computer-based test questions. Results will only be used to evaluate the questions administered, and will not be used to generate student, school or district results. The tryout administration window will be June 5–16, 2017, and we expect the tryout session to take approximately 45 minutes. A survey to collect information from interested schools (i.e., number of students participating at grades 5 and/or 8) will be available in the beginning of November, and principals will receive more information and passwords for the survey in a separate email.

November Retest Administration

Test administration manuals are now posted, and can be used in training test administrators and other staff. Test materials are scheduled to arrive at high schools on October 26 (see the schedule  Download MS WORD Document for other important November retest dates). Contact the MCAS Service Center at 800-737-5103 with any questions about your shipment, and contact the Department's Student Assessment Services at 781-338-3625 with any policy questions.

Reminder about "Nonscorable" MCAS ELA Compositions

In preparation for the November ELA retest, we would like to remind high school principals that the grade 10/retest Composition requires students to respond to a writing prompt based on a work of literature they have read. A large percentage of students participating in the March 2016 retest did not address the prompt as required, earning 0 out of 20 points for the Composition portion. Most of the nonscorable compositions were summaries of a book that did not address the topic of the writing prompt. Therefore, we encourage that you and your English teams remind students of the importance of producing a composition that uses a work of literature to address the writing prompt. Educators may wish to view previously administered writing prompts, scoring guides, and sample student work at each score point.

Ordering Window for the February 2017 MCAS High School Biology Test

Experienced administrators know that the February Biology ordering window has traditionally taken place in late October. The ordering window will be in early December this year, and specific dates will be coming soon. High school principals will be ordering materials via the PearsonAccess Next system through the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) process. Detailed instructions will be provided closer to the opening of the ordering window.

ACCESS for ELLs 2.0
Ordering ACCESS for ELLs Test Materials

The ACCESS for ELLs test materials ordering window extends from October 24 to November 10. ACCESS test coordinators should use the WIDA Assessment Management System (AMS) to order test materials for their school. Data Recognition Corporation (DRC), the ACCESS for ELLs testing contractor, has sent emails to ACCESS test coordinators with login, password, and account information for the WIDA AMS. ACCESS test coordinators who received login and password information can and should create accounts for other staff who will assist or replace them in that role. New district test coordinators may email to get their accounts set up. Please view and complete the Test Materials Ordering training module prior to ordering your school's test materials.

Principal's Pre-Administration Manual

The Principal's Pre-Administration Manual for ACCESS for ELLs: Tasks to be Completed in Fall 2016 Download MS WORD Document is now available on the Department web page and outlines the steps that principals, test coordinators, and test administrators will need to complete prior to the beginning of the ACCESS test window on January 5, 2017.

Technology Resources

Technology resources for online ACCESS testing are now available on the WIDA web page (on the Technology tab), including the Technology Readiness Checklist, technology specifications, device configuration, and the Technology User Guide. These should be used by Technology Coordinators and Test Coordinators to begin planning for online ACCESS test administration in your school, scheduled to begin on January 5, 2017.

Important Dates

  • October 24–November 10: ACCESS for ELLs materials-ordering window
  • October 26: High schools receive November retest materials
  • October 26–October 31: High schools complete the November retest PCPA, report packing discrepancies, and order additional materials
  • November 2–4: MCAS ELA Retest
  • November 9–10: MCAS Mathematics Retest
  • November 15: MCAS Retests — last day for make-up testing

Additional Resources

View HTML Page
Transition Plan for MCAS Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) Tests
View HTML Page
Statewide Assessment Calendar with Test Administration Deadlines for the 2016-2017 School Year
View HTML Page
MCAS Device Calculator for Computer-Based Testing


Subscriber Information

Principals, MCAS test coordinators, special education directors, and ELL directors receive the Student Assessment Update based on contact information submitted to the Department. To change your email address or to add another staff member who serves in one of these roles, 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).

For others who wish to subscribe, email with the following information in the body of the email: "subscribe SASUpdate Your_Name" (Example: subscribe SASUpdate John_Smith). To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with the following information in the body: "unsubscribe SASUpdate."

We welcome your questions and feedback at Thank you.

Last Updated: November 9, 2016

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.