Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: September 26, 2017

Contact Information

MCAS Service Center
Phone: 800-737-5103
for logistical support, including tech support for PearsonAccess Next and TestNav

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

Latest Updates from Student Assessment Services

John and Abigail Adams Scholarship

High schools will soon be receiving a delivery of letters for students who have qualified to receive the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship. Schools should make copies of the letters for students' files for future reference and remind students to make a copy of the letter and keep it in a safe place. Students must include a copy of the letter with their completed FAFSA application each year. Without this letter, the college/university will not apply the tuition credit.

Instructions for High Schools with No Students Testing in the November Retest

High schools that have no students testing during the November retest should email the MCAS Service Center no later than October 6 at with their school and district name and code. The MCAS Service Center will be calling high schools that have not submitted student information through the SR/PNP process and/or did not contact the Service Center.

November Retest SR/PNP Training Session

Department staff held a WebEx session on Wednesday, September 20 for test coordinators who will be handling registration for the November retest. This training is available as a WebEx recording. As a reminder, the November retest registration window is now open and will remain open through October 6.

Reminder: Districts' Testing Mode Decisions Due October 13

As you know, superintendents are requested to inform the Department via an online survey of their decisions regarding testing modes for their grades 3-8 schools and whether the district will request a full or partial waiver from the CBT expectations in grades 4, 5, 7, and 8. All districts must respond to the survey by the October 13 deadline. We suggest communicating with your district office to confirm that the testing mode decisions being made for your school align with the school's expectations. The school community and parents/guardians should also be kept informed of the decision and appropriately prepared.

ACCESS for ELLs Upcoming Training Sessions

Districts may register test coordinators to attend the remaining face-to-face 2018 ACCESS for ELLs training session, scheduled for the following location:
  • Massasoit Community College, Brockton - Thursday, October 5, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Please note that this session is designed for first-time test coordinators and will include a thorough walk-through of the ACCESS for ELLs test administration process. In addition to the face-to-face workshop, districts may register an unlimited number of test coordinators to attend a 2018 ACCESS training session conference call, scheduled for the following dates and times: Please contact with any registration concerns.

Upcoming Reporting Session for Grades 3-8 English Language Arts and Mathematics Results

The Department will host a reporting session on October 16 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. to help school and district leaders understand the changes to the MCAS program and prepare for the official release of the MCAS results. The presentation will cover general information about the 2017 MCAS results, including an orientation to the new scales and achievement levels, the standard-setting process, and the new parent/guardian reports that will debut this year. The session will be recorded and available online a few days after the conclusion of the session and will be emailed directly to registrants within 24 hours. Registration for the session is currently open.


This is a reminder that the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) goes into effect this school year and that important features of this new federal education law apply to students with significant disabilities who will take the MCAS-Alt. Last March, the Department posted an important memo on the statewide "one percent cap," which limits the number of students who may take alternate assessments. Please review this memo and attachments, which include:
  • Criteria and materials (including a decision-making tool) to assist IEP teams in making decisions about which students should be given an alternate assessment
  • A PowerPoint presentation for conducting required annual IEP team training on this topic
  • Other options for consideration in assessing students with significant disabilities, including new computer-based tools and accommodations, and "grade-level" and "competency" portfolios
  • A sample parent notification letter, which must be provided by districts to the parents/guardians of each student taking the MCAS-Alt in grades 4 and higher (not including those students submitting "grade-level" or "competency" portfolios)

Training for Educators and Administrators Who Are Conducting MCAS and MCAS-Alt for Students with Disabilities

Registration is still available for the MCAS-Alt Educator Training Sessions, which will be held on September 25 and 26 and October 2, 3, 10, 11, 12, and 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Spaces are also available for the Administrators Overview of MCAS and MCAS-Alt for Students with Disabilities on October 10, 11, 12 and 17 from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. Topics for administrators will include:
  • Next-generation MCAS overview, including online testing, accessibility and accommodations, and schedule for next-generation high school testing
  • MCAS-Alt: Purposes, participation guidelines, statewide results, and support for teachers
  • Features of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that may affect the assessment of students with disabilities
See the flyer for locations and registration information. Register now.

Important Dates

  • October 6: Deadline to complete initial SR/PNP process for November retest in order to order materials
  • October 13: Deadline to complete mode choice survey and submit computer-based testing waiver requests
  • October 17: High schools should expect to receive their shipment of John and Abigail Adams Scholarship letters
  • Week of October 16: Official district- and school-level MCAS & MCAS-Alt results released to the public
  • October 24: Printed MCAS parent/guardian reports for students participating in standard MCAS tests & MCAS-Alt received by superintendents


Download MS WORD Document
2017 Assessment & Accountability Data Review & Release Schedule
Download MS WORD Document
2018 MCAS Accessibility and Accommodations Manual for Grades 3-8
Download MS WORD Document
Requirements for the Participation of Students with Disabilities and ELLs in the 2017-2018 MCAS High School Tests
Download MS WORD Document
MCAS CBT Readiness Checklist for Technology Coordinators
Download MS WORD Document
Technology Specifications for the 2018 MCAS Assessments
Download MS WORD Document
Student Technology Skills for Computer-Based Testing
View External Link
User Role Matrix for PearsonAccess Next
View External Link
Guide to the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) Process for November Retest

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: submit the new email address to your District-Level Directory Administrator.
  • Educational collaboratives, approved private special education schools, 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." In addition, ESE sends occasional communications regarding state policies that affect educators, parents, and other community stakeholders, as well as opportunities for community members to participate in state initiatives. Please visit our newsletter sign-up page if you are interested in receiving other news and information from the Department. We welcome your questions and feedback at Thank you.

Last Updated: September 29, 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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