Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: January 20, 2017

Contact Information

Student Assessment Services
Phone: 781-338-3625
MCAS Service Center
Phone: 800-737-5103

Latest Updates from Student Assessment Services

ACCESS for ELLs Online Test Administration Update

The 2017 ACCESS for ELLs test administration began on January 5. The Department is aware that on two recent occasions, the online ACCESS testing platform, DRC INSIGHT, failed and many students experienced interruptions or were required to stop testing. We have been in frequent contact with WIDA/DRC, the test contractor, to determine the causes of these temporary outages, and to improve their communication with test and technology coordinators if this occurs again n the future. At this time, we know that the online tests experienced system-wide interruptions on two successive days across the entire WIDA consortium. All student test data was saved, and the issues causing the failures have been resolved. The outages were caused by two separate issues: the first by a faulty server at DRC; and the second by an Internet connectivity problem. Since then, there have no further issues with INSIGHT. As of today, all systems are operating successfully. We are aware that these issues have caused concern and frustration for schools, staff, and students, and have resulted in the rescheduling of tests. The Department takes these matters seriously and is confident that in the large majority of cases, schools and districts will be able to complete their testing by the deadline of February 8. Staff in the Student Assessment office are available to advise and assist schools to address these and similar issues that may occur during future testing. You may contact the Student Assessment office at or by phone at 781-338-3625.

New MCAS Resource Center Website Now Available

The new MCAS Resource Center website is now available at This website provides access to the following resources:
  • A link to PearsonAccess Next (PAN), the online test management system that schools are using to order test materials for paper-based testing as well as to specify test forms to be delivered online for computer-based testing. Schools doing computer-based testing will use PAN to set up and administer their computer-based tests.
  • A page with technology specifications and user guides
  • A link to the Department's web pages for test administration manuals and policy information
  • A page with short training modules that provide step-by-step instructions, primarily for CBT tasks and using PAN
  • A page with the student tutorial and practice tests, which will be available early next month
  • A link to the MCAS Service Center website, where schools will access the PCPA and order additional materials, and where PBT schools can schedule UPS pickup
We hope this new resource will be helpful to schools and districts, particularly those new to computer-based testing. Please feel free to share your input by emailing

Online Modules and Upcoming Training Sessions

Training modules are now available on the MCAS Resource Center website. Modules are being posted as available. At this time, we recommend that schools view the two in the "Modules to Assist with Pre-Administration Tasks" section at the top of the screen: the first module in this section is relevant for the March retest process, and the last module in this section is for schools completing the SR/PNP for grades 3–8 and 10. We are pleased to provide registration information for upcoming training sessions (see the table below). Please note that elementary and middle school principals are expected to participate in one of the sessions on MCAS test security and administration protocols during the conference call sessions on February 13 and 14, and that high school principals should participate in a conference call session on February 2 or 3.
Training Sessions/ModulesTraining Dates and Registration LinkAudience
MCAS Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile Conference Call for Grades 3–8
The Department will hold two conference call sessions for elementary and middle schools to give information on the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) process, which is the new process for ordering test materials and updating selected accommodations (this is the same process that high schools are using). This process is being used for computer-based testing as well as paper-based testing.
Conference call sessions:
January 23, 10:00–11:30 a.m.
January 25, 1:00–2:30 p.m.
Elementary and middle school principals, MCAS test coordinators, technology coordinators
MCAS Test Security and Administration Protocols for High Schools
These sessions will highlight critical elements of the MCAS test administration for high schools, including test security requirements and test administration protocols, participation guidelines, and accommodations. An orientation for new principals will be provided at the end of the session.
Conference call sessions:
February 2, 3
  • Go online to MCAS Service Center.
  • Select MCAS from the menu.
  • Select Registration for Training from the list of options.
  • Follow the online instructions.
High school principals, MCAS test coordinators
New high school principals are expected to attend one of these sessions.
Pre-Administration Tasks for Technology Staff for Grades 3–8
This WebEx presentation will review and explain the technology requirements and system set-up needed to successfully administer the computer-based MCAS tests. Topics covered will include the infrastructure trial, proctor caching, software installation, and additional resources available to support technology staff.
WebEx session: February 9
  • Go online to MCAS Service Center.
  • Select MCAS from the menu.
  • Select Registration for Training from the list of options.
  • Follow the online instructions.
Technology coordinators
MCAS Test Security and Administration Protocols for Grades 3–8
These sessions will highlight critical elements of the MCAS test administration for computer-based testing as well as for paper-based testing for grades 3–8, including updates on the testing program, test security requirements and test administration protocols, participation guidelines, and accessibility and accommodations.
Conference call sessions:
February 13, 14

Face-to-face sessions:
February 15 — Holyoke
February 16 — Marlborough
(district personnel only)
  • Go online to MCAS Service Center.
  • Select MCAS from the menu.
  • Select Registration for Training from the list of options.
  • Follow the online instructions.
For the conference call sessions, we can accommodate large school and district teams. Each elementary and middle school principal is expected to attend one of these sessions (unless the school is only administering the MCAS-Alt).

For the face-to-face sessions, due to space constraints, we must limit the audience to two members per district.

Cancellation Policy for Sessions

In case of severe weather conditions, face-to-face sessions will be canceled if the district in which the training is scheduled to take place cancels school for the day. If there is a delayed opening for schools in the city, the training will take place as scheduled. The conference call sessions will be canceled if a state of emergency has been declared for Massachusetts, as participants dial in from their own locations. In addition, the Department may also cancel a session if dangerous travel conditions are being predicted. In the event of a session cancellation, the MCAS Service Center will send an email message to each individual who registers. Every effort will be made to provide early notice of a cancellation, but please be aware that an email cancellation message may not be sent until the morning of a scheduled session. If the session is cancelled, an email message will be sent the morning of the session to the email address used for registration.

Updates for Grades 3–8 Schools
New PearsonAccess Next Accounts

By the close of business on January 20, grades 3–8 superintendents, grades 3–8 principals, grades 3–8 school and district test coordinators, and district technology coordinators should receive an email from PearsonAccess Next with the subject line "New Account." This email includes user IDs and a link to set new passwords. High schools have already completed this process, and new emails are being sent now only to new elementary and middle school users, as well as district technology coordinators.

Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) Process for Grades 3–8 (Ordering PBT Test Materials and CBT Online Forms): January 23–February 10

Elementary and middle school principals must complete the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) process in PearsonAccess Next (PAN) between January 23 and February 10. Superintendents must ensure that educational collaboratives and approved private special education schools order materials via the SR/PNP process for their students in out-of-district placements. For the spring 2017 grades 3–8 test administrations, the Department will import students' records into PAN based on October 2016 SIMS, including PNP accommodations based on spring 2016 testing (MCAS or PARCC). Principals are responsible for ensuring that all students' records have been loaded, students are listed with the correct accommodations, and records for students who transferred in or out of the school have been added or removed as appropriate. Detailed instructions are provided in the SR/PNP Guide referenced below. Principals should note that there is a different process than in the past for ordering additional Test Administrator's Manuals (e.g., for administering tests to students using the Designated Accessibility Feature of an individual [one-to-one] test administration). This step is not included in the SR/PNP. Schools will be able to order additional manuals by going online to MCAS Service Center between the additional order window dates of March 20–30. Feel free to contact the MCAS Service Center for assistance at 800-737-5103. PearsonAccess Next must be updated by February 10; this is particularly important for PBT schools, since the student registration file in PAN will be used to generate Student ID Labels. Resources to Support Schools
To assist schools with the SR/PNP process, the Department will host two conference calls (see information in the table in the first section of this Update). In addition, step-by-step instructions will be provided via two methods that will be available on January 23:
  • a training module (see information in the table earlier in this Update).
  • Guide to the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) Process: Grades 3–8 Administrations, which will be posted on the PearsonAccess Next website (Log in, and then click "Support" and then "Documentation.") Be sure to select the guide for the grades 3–8 administration, as listed on the document's cover page.
Test sites, DYS/SEIS, and other schools with a special situation should contact the MCAS Service Center to place an order for a total amount of materials instead of using the SR/PNP process. (Other schools will be directed to follow the SR/PNP process.) If you have questions about logistics, please contact the MCAS Service Center at 800-737-5103. If you have policy questions or questions about participation guidelines, call the Student Assessment Services unit at 781-338-3625.

Important Dates

  • January 3–February 1: Schools report packing discrepancies in ACCESS for ELLs test materials and order additional materials
  • January 5–February 8: ACCESS for ELLs testing window
  • January 12–26: Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) process for the March retests and the spring grade 10 ELA and Mathematics tests (SR/PNP updates for the spring grade 10 Mathematics test will be done March 8–21.)
  • January 23–February 10: SR/PNP process for spring grades 3–8 tests on PAN
  • February 24: MCAS November retest Parent/Guardian Reports delivered to districts via UPS

Additional Resources

Guide to the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) Process for High School Administrations March–June 2017 -- *updated document* posted on PearsonAccess Next (Log in, and then click "Support" and then "Documentation.")
Download MS WORD Document
MCAS Pre-Administration Guide for the Spring 2017 MCAS Grades 3–8 Computer-Based Tests
Download MS EXCEL Document
Computer-Based Testing Device Planner
View HTML Page
Mathematics Reference Sheets for Grades 5–8 and Grade 10
Technology Skills for Computer-Based Assessment
Download MS WORD Document
Keyboarding and Writing Skills Using Technology
View HTML Page
Updated Student Participation Resources

Subscriber Information

Principals, MCAS test coordinators, special education directors, and ELL directors automatically receive this 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: January 23, 2017

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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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