Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: March 29, 2017

Contact Information

MCAS Service Center
Phone: 800-737-5103
for logistical support, including technology support

Student Assessment Services
Phone: 781-338-3625
for policy questions, including questions about student participation

Pre-Administration Updates - Testing for Grades 3-8 Begins April 3

As schools make their preparations for the start of test administration, we'd like to alert you to a number of additional resources that are now available, as well as share some final information and reminders.

Additional Resources and Reminders for Test Administration

  • Frequently asked questions on the student questionnaire (which is administered at grades 5, 8, and 10) are posted on the Department's website.
  • Word versions of some of the forms from the grades 3-8 Principal's Administration Manual are available on the Department's website.
  • "Office Hours" sessions are scheduled for April 10 and April 28 to discuss tasks during testing.
  • As a reminder, the MCAS Service Center is handling technology support and troubleshooting during this administration.

Additional Resources for Computer-Based Testing

Additional Resource for Students Taking the Mathematics Test for Grades 3-8 - CBT

Students taking grades 3-8 mathematics tests on desktops will be able to hover their computer mouse over the symbols in the equation editor for a one or two word explanation of what the symbol is. Students not using a desktop may not be able to hover, so the Department is providing this resource that schools may want to provide to students.

Reminder: Accommodations for CBT

Students cannot receive both the text-to-speech and human reader or human signer accommodations. However, since the Department has found that a large number of schools have assigned both accommodations to some of their students, it is strongly recommended that schools check records in PearsonAccess Next (PAN) to identify if this situation exists in your school. Once a student's test has begun, a form cannot be changed for a student (and additional steps would need to be taken for a student to test). Step-by-step directions to easily identify these students and make the updates via import, or directly through PearsonAccess Next, can be found at the bottom of this Update. Please also note that students with the Human Reader or Human Signer accommodation must be placed in a Human Reader or Human Signer test session in PearsonAccess Next. To check this, select Testing > Sessions in PAN, search for a Human Reader or Human Signer session, and select the checkbox next to the session name. Select Create/Edit Sessions from the Task dropdown menu, and click Start. On this page, select the Proctor Reads Aloud checkbox and the correct "Form Group Type" from the dropdown menu, and then click Save.

Contingency Planning for Issues that Affect Computer-Based Testing Systems

In advance of the opening of the MCAS grades 3-8 testing window, we would like to make you aware of the planned procedure for notifying schools and districts regarding any unexpected issues or outages related to the computer-based testing systems. Although the Department expects that all systems will remain fully operational throughout the testing window, unexpected issues or outages could occur. As soon as the Department is made aware of an outage or other situation affecting service, an email will be sent from the MCAS Service Center to all principals, district and school test coordinators, and technology coordinators. Superintendents and assistant superintendents may also be notified, depending on the situation. The MCAS System Status page will be updated immediately, and updates will be posted to the status page on a regular basis until the issue has been fully resolved. At that time, a second email will be sent to schools and districts to communicate that service has been restored.

Test Security for Computer-Based Testing and Availability of TestNav

In order to maintain the security of the computer-based testing systems, TestNav will be available only during regular school hours, between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Monday-Friday. In addition, TestNav will not be available during the week of April 17, since it is anticipated that schools will not be in session. If a school wishes to conduct testing outside of these hours, the principal must email to request an exception. The email should include the following information:
  • School and district name
  • School and district code
  • Grade(s)
  • Specific exception days/time
  • Reason for request

2017-2018 Testing Schedule

Schools should plan for next year's test dates to be similar to this year's. Specific dates and windows will be provided later this spring.

Important Dates

  • March 30: Last day to complete the PCPA and, if necessary, order additional materials for grades 3-8
  • April 3: Last day for make-up testing for grade 10 MCAS English Language Arts test
  • March 27 April 5: ACCESS for ELLs data validation window
  • April 3-May 3: Spring 2017 MCAS English Language Arts tests (grades 3-8)
  • April 4-May 26: Spring 2017 MCAS Mathematics tests (grades 3-8)
  • April 5-May 26: Spring 2017 MCAS Science and Tech/Eng tests (grades 5 and 8)
  • April 10: Results of the February Biology test available electronically in DropBox Central
  • April 25: Results of the March Retest available electronically in DropBox Central
  • May 15: Parent/Guardian Reports for the February Biology test and March Retest delivered to districts via UPS

Additional Resources

View HTML Page
Commissioner's March 6, 2017, Message on MCAS Participation
View External Link
MCAS Resource Center (Practice Tests, Tutorials, and more)

Steps to Correct Student Records with Both Text-to-Speech and Human Reader or Human Signer Assigned

Correct via SR/PNP Import
  1. In PAN, select Spring 2017 MCAS Gr. 3-8 from the administration drop down.
  2. Select Import / Export Data from the Setup drop down.
  3. Select Import / Export Data from the Select Tasks drop down. Click Start.
  4. Select Student Registration Export from the Type drop down and click Start.
  5. Once the file is complete, select Download File
  6. In the .csv file, identify all students who have both Text-to-Speech (column Z) and Human Reader or Human Signer (Column Y) selected. Delete all other students from the file.
  7. Remove either the Text-to-Speech flag, or the Human Reader or Human Signer flag for those students.
  8. Save the file as a .csv file.
  9. In PAN, select Import / Export Data from the Setup drop down.
  10. Select Import / Export Data from the Select Tasks drop down. Click Start.
  11. Select Student Registration Import from the Type drop down.
  12. Select Choose File and browse for the saved .csv file. Click Process.
Correct via PearsonAccess Next Interface
  1. In PAN, select Spring 2017 MCAS Gr. 3-8 from the administration drop down.
  2. Select Operational Reports from the Reports drop down.
  3. Check Students & Registrations from the Report Category.
  4. Select the PNP Report - Accessibility Features and Accommodations for Student Tests report from the list.
  5. Select Text-to-Speech from the Accessibility Features and Accommodations dropdown. Click Download CSV.
  6. Identify students on this report that have the Text-to-Speech flag (column T) and Human Reader or Human signer (column U) flag selected.
  7. In PAN, select Students from the Setup dropdown.
  8. Search for the student that has both flags selected. Select the checkbox to the left of the student and select Manage Student Tests from the Select Tasks dropdown.
  9. Here, remove either the checkbox next to Text-to-Speech, or the selection from the human Read-Aloud or Human Signer drop down. Click Save.

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: April 5, 2017

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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