Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: November 15, 2016

Contact Information

Student Assessment Services
Phone: 781-338-3625

Latest Updates from Student Assessment Services

Next-Generation Test Designs and Other Information Now Available

The 2017 next-generation MCAS test information for grades 3–8 ELA and Mathematics tests is now available. This includes the test design, number of sessions, question types, and other information related to the newly redesigned MCAS tests.

Information Sessions on New ELA and Mathematics Test Designs for Grades 3–8

The Department will hold two conference call sessions for elementary and middle schools to give information on the new test designs for ELA and Mathematics for grades 3–8, as well as new accessibility features and accommodations. The sessions will provide the following information:
  • an overview of the new test designs (Participants should view the ELA and Mathematics test designs prior to the session.)
  • similarities to and differences from the 2016 tests
  • new question types and sample questions
  • accessibility features and accommodations
Presenters will also hold a question-and-answer period at the end of the presentation. Each session will be held according to the schedule in the table below.
Thursday, December 81:00–2:30 p.m.
Friday, December 99:00–10:30 a.m.
Registrations may be submitted until December 2. Principals are asked to invite educators in their schools to participate, but a recording of one of the sessions will be made available for those who are unable to attend, along with the slide deck presented.

February Biology Test Materials Orders

Beginning with the February Biology test administration, schools will be ordering test materials for each student via a Student Registration upload in PearsonAccess Next, instead of the previous schoolwide order system. The upload also includes a Personal Needs Profile in which a selection of students' accommodations are listed. For February Biology, the window will begin on Monday, December 5, and step-by-step instructions will be sent by fax and email to high school principals later this month. The Department will host a conference call session for high schools on December 5, 10:00–11:00 a.m. to provide an overview of the process and answer questions. Registrations may be submitted until December 1.

MCAS STE Question Tryout for Grades 5 and 8

As you know from the recent Student Assessment Update, the Department will be administering a short computer-based Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) question tryout in grades 5 and 8 in June 2017. Elementary and middle school principals should have received individual passwords earlier today to access a brief survey to collect information from interested schools on the expected number of students who will participate. If you did not receive your password or have questions, please contact the Office of Student Assessment Services at 781-338-3625 or Survey responses should be submitted by November 30.

Sample Student Work from 2016 Now Posted

The Department has released short-response questions, open-response questions, and writing prompts from the spring 2016 MCAS tests; the scoring guide for each question; and a sample of student work at each score point for that question. Student work samples in English Language Arts (ELA) Composition and Reading Comprehension include annotations at all grade levels and score points. Taken together, the questions, the scoring guides, and the corresponding student work provide a picture of the expectations for student performance on the MCAS tests.

Important Dates

  • October 24–November 10: ACCESS for ELLs materials-ordering window
  • 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 16, 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


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