Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: December 5, 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

Student Registration for the MCAS February Biology Test

High schools must order student test materials for the MCAS February Biology test administration by December 15 via the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) process in PearsonAccess Next (PAN). 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. A response is required from each high school by December 15, including from schools that do not have students participating in this administration. Schools with the following two special situations should contact the MCAS Service Center by the December 15 deadline:
  • If no students will participate in the February Biology test, email the MCAS Service Center with the school and district name and code. The MCAS Service Center will be calling high schools that do not complete the SR/PNP or did not contact them before the deadline.
  • Adult/external diploma programs, test sites, DYS/SEIS, and other high schools with a special situation should contact the MCAS Service Center via email or phone (800-737-5103) to place an order for a total number of materials instead of completing the SR/PNP process.
For support in completing the SR/PNP, schools may access the following resources: A table listing common errors that can occur during the SR/PNP import process, as well as solutions to correct them, can be found at the end of this Update. If you have questions about ordering test materials, please contact the MCAS Service Center via email or call 800-737-5103. If you have questions about policies or guidelines for participation, contact the Office of Student Assessment Services via email or call 781-338-3625.

Public Comment on Proposals to Amend the Competency Determination Regulations

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is soliciting public comment on proposed amendments to the MCAS Standards for Competency Determination Regulations. The proposed amendments to the Competency Determination would establish an interim passing standard for students in the classes of 2021 and 2022 in English language arts and mathematics. The proposed amendments would also update outdated language and references in the regulations. More information about ways to submit comments can be found on the Department's website.

District Testing Mode Decisions

A summary of testing mode decisions for spring 2018 MCAS computer- or paper-based tests for grades 3-8 is now posted. Principals should review the testing mode decision for their schools that superintendents submitted to the Department. If any corrections are needed, principals should discuss them with the superintendent and email the Department (

Upcoming MCAS Training Sessions and Online Modules

The list of MCAS training sessions for 2018 is now available on the Training Opportunities web page. The upcoming sessions are listed in "Other Upcoming Training Sessions," the second table on the page; once registrations become available, the sessions will move to the table at the top of the page. All sessions will be recorded, and the recordings and slides will be available at the MCAS Resource Center approximately one week after each session is offered. For the first time, the Department is offering a session on MCAS accessibility and accommodations for grades 3-8 and high schools. Also, information about high school field tests and question tryouts will be presented in various sessions described in the table. In 2018, the Department will not hold face-to-face sessions as it has done in the past so schools can participate in shorter remote sessions on focused topics instead. The Department may hold face-to-face sessions again in 2019. In addition to the training sessions, online training modules are being posted on the MCAS Resource Center as they become available. The list of modules is available on the Training Opportunities web page.

Deadline Extended for the High School Science Question Tryout Survey

As announced in the 2017 November Student Assessment Update, the Department is recruiting high schools to participate in the high school Biology and Introductory Physics question tryout and is collecting responses from interested schools concerning the number of students expected to participate. The deadline for completing the survey has been extended until the end of this week, Friday, December 8. Please refer to the instructions for completing the survey that were sent in a recent email, and contact the MCAS Service Center at 800-737-5103 with any questions.

Important Dates

  • December 4-15: Complete the SR/PNP process to order materials for the February Biology test.


View External Link
Infrastructure Trial for Technology Coordinators Training Module

February Biology SR/PNP Import Process - Common Errors

Error messageCauseSolution
Incorrect number of tokens found on line 2, expected: 11 actual: 53This error message appears when selecting a User Import rather than a Student Registration Import in PAN.

This error message indicates that the file being imported contains more columns than expected. PAN has 53 columns in the Student Registration file. (In this example, PAN expected 11 columns for a User Import.)
The file needs to be re-imported with the correct import type (Student Registration Import).
Column 'parseDate' cannot be bound due to a Spel evaluation exception.This error message appears when the date of birth is not in an allowable format for PAN.This is an error that typically appears only for Apple users. Excel formats the birth year so it only contains the last two digits ("11" instead of "2011"). This error will appear only when the birth year is 2000. Apple users should follow the instructions found in column I on page 9 of the Guide to the SR/PNP Process Download PDF Document.
No error message, but the file is not uploaded correctlyTypically this occurs when a user imports a file that was saved in the wrong format.Users should verify that the file is saved in the .csv format. PAN will not import files saved as .xlsx or .txt.
Incorrect number of tokens found on line 2, expected: 53 actual: 45This error message appears when using the SR/PNP file layout and field definitions from 2016-2017.

This error message indicates that the file being imported contains fewer columns than expected. PAN expects 53 columns in the 2017-2018 Student Registration file. (In this example, the file contained 45 columns.)
The file needs to be updated using the 2017-2018 Student Registration layout. Several columns were added this school year (refer to the Guide to the SR/PNP Process Download PDF Document for details).

Once the file is prepared, it should be re-imported into PAN.
Human Read Aloud as a Non-Standard Accommodation is not valid when the "testcode" is for a Mathematics test.Several accommodations are available only for tests in one subject area (e.g., an accommodation that is available for ELA tests but not for Mathematics tests). An error message will appear if an accommodation is not available for the selected test.Refer to the Guide to the SR/PNP Process Download PDF Document to determine if the accommodation in question is available for a test in the subject area test that was selected.

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: December 7, 2017

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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