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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: November 9, 2017, Special High School Edition

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

Spring MCAS High School Field Tests and Question Tryouts

Superintendents and directors were sent an "On the Desktop" message earlier today (see below) that provides additional information on the spring 2018 MCAS ELA and Mathematics field tests and announces the voluntary question tryouts in Biology and Introductory Physics.

For the ELA and Mathematics field tests, each high school will participate in either ELA or Math, and will be expected to have at least 25 percent of its students participate. For the Biology and Introductory Physics question tryouts, participation is voluntary.

Testing dates, the test design, and more information about the two different types of administrations is provided on the attached FAQs.

Next steps are as follows:

  • ELA and Mathematics field tests: The Department will provide guidance to high school principals later this fall on selecting students. In the meantime, if a high school principal would like to have more than 25 percent of the school's students participate, please email mcas@doe.mass.edu.
  • Biology and Introductory Physics question tryouts: A survey to collect information from interested schools will be available in mid-November, and principals will receive more information and passwords for the survey in a separate email.

Please feel free to contact the Office of Digital Learning at odl@doe.mass.edu with questions about technology, and contact Office of Student Assessment Services at mcas@doe.mass.edu with questions about the field tests and question tryouts.

On the Desktop - November 9, 2017

Dear Superintendents, Charter School Leaders, Assistant Superintendents, Collaborative Leaders, and High School Principals,

I am writing to share important updates about the plan to transition MCAS high school tests to next-generation tests in English language arts (ELA), mathematics, and science and technology/engineering (STE).

As you know from the June "On the Desktop" message, in spring 2018, each high school will administer a computer-based field test in ELA or mathematics. In addition, ESE is recruiting high schools to participate in voluntary computer-based question tryouts in biology and introductory physics.

The purpose of the field tests and question tryouts is three-fold:

  1. to try out test questions, including new technology-enhanced questions, that will be used on the next-generation assessments;
  2. to help high schools prepare for next-generation computer-based assessments prior to an operational administration; and
  3. to develop next-generation practice tests and resources that schools and districts can use during the 2018-19 school year.

Accordingly, no student, school, or district results will be generated from the field tests or the question tryouts.

Participation in the Field Tests and Question Tryouts

For the ELA and mathematics field tests, high schools will be randomly assigned to administer either ELA or mathematics. Regardless of the subject area selected, each school will be expected to have at least 25 percent of its 10th grade students participate. Guidance on student selection will be provided to principals later this fall. Schools may also elect to have more than 25 percent of their students participate.

I recognize that this exercise will create extra work for you and staff, but field testing is an essential element in designing a high quality assessment. In future years, field testing of new questions will be done within the regular MCAS test administration.

For the biology and introductory physics question tryouts, high school principals are encouraged to participate, regardless of where the school is in the process of adopting the 2016 Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework. The Department will provide registration information later this fall.

Participation in the field tests and question tryouts does not replace or affect participation in the operational spring 2018 tests.

Administration Dates

The dates for administration are as follows:

ELA and Mathematics Field Tests
(All schools must participate in ELA or mathematics.)
April 23-May 11
Biology and Introductory Physics Question Tryouts
(Voluntary participation)
May 29-June 15, except for June 6-7
(Schools may not administer the question tryouts on the dates for operational high school STE testing.)

Detailed information on the test design and administration of the field tests and question tryouts will be provided to principals later today.

Questions about technology may be directed to the Office of Digital Learning at odl@doe.mass.edu, and questions about the field tests and question tryouts may be directed to the Office of Student Assessment Services at mcas@doe.mass.edu.

Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

Jeff Wulfson
Acting Commissioner

Important Dates

  • November 17: Last day for regular November retest make-up testing
  • November 20: Deadline for updating SR/PNP (if necessary) for November retest
  • November 20: Deadline for completing PCPA for November retest
  • November 20: Deadline for scheduling UPS pickup for November retest
  • November 21: Deadline for UPS pickup for November retest
  • December 4-15: Complete the SR/PNP process to order materials for February Biology

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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 imailsrv@list1.doe.mass.edu 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 mcas@doe.mass.edu. Thank you.



Last Updated: November 10, 2017
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