Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: December 19, 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

Technology Specifications for Spring 2018 MCAS Computer-Based Tests

The technology specifications for computer-based tests have been updated for spring 2018 and will be posted on the Department's website shortly. The updates include:
  • Support added for newer versions of operating systems
  • The ability for all students to test using the TestNav app, including those using a screen reader or other assistive technology (it is recommended that the student's external software is tested with the app prior to administration)
Additionally, language has been added regarding known presentation issues when testing using iPads and other tablets, including screen jumping when using the built-in keyboard and less space to view the prompt when writing essay responses. The Department recommends using a wired, external keyboard for testing to help mitigate these issues. However, given these concerns, we will be monitoring iPad usage during testing this spring and looking for feedback on the experience after administration in order to develop a recommendation on whether we will continue to support tablets for testing in future years, particularly for competency determination tests.

Passwords for the MCAS Service Center Website

Experienced principals may remember that new passwords for accessing the MCAS Service Center website are sent at the beginning of each calendar year. New passwords are delivered by mail in early January 2017 and will be used to log into the MCAS Service Center for all tasks related to the tests given in the 2018 calendar year. High school principals should retain their 2017 passwords for the MCAS Service Center to access the following:
  • November retest composition images (planned to be available in January)
  • Adams scholarship rosters
All principals (elementary, middle, and high school) will use the new password for the MCAS Service Center beginning in 2018 to access the following:
  • Complete the Principal's Certification of Proper Test Administration (PCPA)
  • Order MCAS-Alt portfolio materials
  • Complete the MCAS-Alt PCPA
As a reminder, principals will also be using PearsonAccess Next to complete test administration tasks such as the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) process, and principals doing computer-based testing will also use the same website to monitor computer-based testing activities. Questions about passwords may be directed to the MCAS Service Center at or 800-737-5103.

Registrations Now Available for January Training Sessions

Schools and districts may now register for the following training sessions by following the links in the table below:
Test(s)TopicsTraining DatesAudience
MCAS grades 3-8 and HS testsMCAS Accessibility and Accommodations
Overview of accommodations and accessibility features for CBT and PBT
  • for grades 3-8 tests
  • for operational high school tests
January 11, 10-11:30 a.m.New principals, MCAS test coordinators, technology coordinators, special education administrators and supervisors
MCAS grades 3-8 and high school tests and field tests (FTs)/question tryouts (QTs)Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile
Overview of the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) process for ordering test materials and updating selected accommodations
January 18, 10-11:30 a.m.Principals, MCAS test coordinators, technology coordinators
MCAS HS tests and FTs/QTsMCAS Test Security and Administration Protocols for High Schools
  • Test security requirements and test administration protocols
  • Participation guidelines
  • Accommodations for operational tests
  • Accommodations and accessibility features for field tests/question tryouts
  • Additional information for new principals
January 23, 9:30 a.m.-noonHigh school principals, MCAS test coordinators

New high school principals are expected to attend this session. Principals who cannot attend may listen to a recording after the session.

ACCESS for ELLs Testing Window

  • The testing window for ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs begins on Thursday, January 4, 2018 and ends on Wednesday, February 7, 2018.
  • Test materials and Pre-ID labels will be delivered on January 2, 2018.
  • The ordering window for additional materials will be available Tuesday, January 2, 2018 through Wednesday, January 31, 2018. Schools will be able to continue to order material directly to their site.
  • Schools are encouraged to limit additional materials orders to a single request from each school, if additional materials are required.

2018 MCAS-Alt Portfolios-in-Progress Review Sessions

We encourage teachers who are compiling MCAS-Alt portfolios to attend a portfolio-in-progress review session in January. Training specialists will answer questions and give feedback on student portfolios. Teachers may also use this time to continue working on their students' portfolios. Registration is now open for all sessions. Portfolios-in-Progress dates and locations (8:30 a.m. until Noon):
January 8
January 9
Best Western,
January 17
Holiday Inn,
January 18
For educators who were unable to attend an Introduction to MCAS-Alt training session last September or October and who will be conducting the MCAS-Alt for the first time, the Introduction to MCAS-Alt training session will be presented in one location only on Wednesday, January 10, 2018, at the Best Western Hotel in Marlborough, from 8:30 a.m. to Noon.

2018 MCAS-Alt Enrollment

MCAS-Alt enrollment for schools to order their portfolio submission materials is scheduled for January 8-19. (Note: Enrollment for MCAS-Alt is separate from the ordering of MCAS test materials.) Please follow the steps shown below:
  1. Log in to the MCAS Service Center; then select MCAS Alternate Assessment.
  2. Click on Enrollment Verification.
  3. Log in with your new MCAS password (passwords will be mailed out in late December).
  4. Confirm contact information and verify your school information by following the onscreen prompts.
  5. Order materials for students in each grade who are participating in the 2018 MCAS-Alt.
  6. Click the Submit button when finished.
  7. After completion, a confirmation page will be shown onscreen for you to print for your records.

Important Dates

  • January 2: ACCESS for ELLs test materials received at schools; ordering window for additional materials opens
  • January 3: Adams scholarship rerun letters arrive in districts
  • January 4: ACCESS for ELLs test administration window opens
  • January 9-22: SR/PNP initial registration window for March retest
  • January 8-19: MCAS-Alt enrollment window for schools to order their portfolio submission materials
  • January 12: November retest scores available in DropBox Central in ESE's Security Portal and composition images available on MCAS Service Center
  • January 18: November retest rosters available in DropBox Central in ESE's Security Portal.
  • January 22-February 2: SR/PNP initial registration window for Grades 3-8 spring MCAS tests
  • January 22: November retest reports available in Edwin Analytics
  • January 29: February Biology test materials received at schools
  • January 31-February 13: SR/PNP initial registration window for Grade 10 MCAS ELA test
  • February 15: November retest parent/guardian reports arrive in districts


View HTML Page
District Testing Mode Decisions for Spring 2018 Administration

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 21, 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


Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.