Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: February 6, 2018

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

Resources to Prepare for Computer-Based Testing

Updated Spring 2018 MCAS Practice Tests for Grades 3–8

Both the computer-based and paper-based editions of the grades 3–8 practice tests have been updated for 2018.

Updates were made to reflect the changes in test design for English Language Arts and Mathematics. The test questions are now coded to the 2017 Curriculum Frameworks for these subject areas. Computer-based practice tests are also now available for grades 5 and 8 Science and Technology/Engineering and include new technology-enhanced questions such as dropdown menus and drag-and-drop.

Practice tests can be accessed via the methods below.

Location of Practice TestsExpected AvailabilityDescription
MCAS Resource CenterNow available

A text-to-speech (TTS) edition will be posted in mid-February. Once each TTS edition is updated, the status update in the gray bar for each grade/subject area will change to "Updated practice tests for 2018 are now available."
Can easily be shared with parents/guardians and the school community

No need to download the TestNav application

Provides students' scores at end of test
TestNav applicationMid-February
(The 2017 practice tests are currently posted there.)
Can easily be shared with parents/guardians and the school community

Provides experience with the TestNav app

Provides students' scores at end of test
Practice tests in the PearsonAccess Next Training SiteMid-February (prior to the beginning of the Infrastructure Trial)Provides opportunities for the school community to practice using PearsonAccess Next testing tickets, accessing the practice tests in the same way that the "live" tests are accessed

Questions about accessing the practice tests should be directed to the MCAS Service Center, and questions about test design and content should be directed to the Department's Office of Student Assessment Services.

Resources for High Schools

Practice tests for grade 10 are not being updated this spring because the operational tests remain paper-based legacy tests. However, the Department is pleased to provide the following resources in preparation for the computer-based next-generation ELA and Mathematics field tests and the high school Biology and Introductory Physics question tryouts:

The Department will continue to post resources at the MCAS high school test administration resources web page ("Resources for the Grade 10 ELA and Mathematics Field Tests and the High School STE Question Tryouts"" section at the bottom of the page) as they become available throughout the winter and spring.

In fall 2018, we expect to provide next-generation grade 10 practice tests to prepare for the spring 2019 computer-based operational next-generation tests in ELA and Mathematics. Sample student work from the spring 2018 field tests also will be provided in fall 2018 for use in staff development as well as preparing students.

Student Tutorial

The student tutorial has been updated for 2018. The Department recommends that schools have all their students view the student tutorial, even those who have previously participated in computer-based testing, and especially students who have not previously participated in computer-based testing.

During the tutorial, students will click through different screens and review brief descriptions on how to navigate through the student testing platform. The tutorial shows students how to use different onscreen tools and accessibility features, how to navigate through the test, and how to review responses before submitting a test.

The tutorial contains no audio component, so educators may want to view the tutorial to become familiar with the tools and features before viewing it with students. The tutorial should take approximately 20–30 minutes to complete.

Opportunities for Schools to Provide Feedback on the Computer-Based Testing Experience

The Department will be administering surveys to schools after the grades 3–8 CBT administration as well as the grade 10 CBT field test. Schools are encouraged to document their experiences throughout test administration to later provide that input in the surveys. Instructions for accessing the surveys will be provided in the spring.

Student Registration Process for Grade 10

As a reminder from the January 23 edition of the Student Assessment Update, high schools must complete the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) for grade 10 by Tuesday, February 13. This SR/PNP period is for the operational grade 10 ELA and Mathematics tests (note schools can include Mathematics now and provide updates during the Mathematics SR/PNP window of March 12–23). Instructions and resources are included in the January 23 edition of the Student Assessment Update.

Test Administrator Accounts in PearsonAccess Next (PAN)

As districts and schools create accounts in PAN for test administrators for the spring 2018 administrations, note that many test administrator accounts from 2017 were created with an "Active End Date" listed, at which time an account will automatically expire. Expired accounts cannot be accessed until a district or school test coordinator updates the Active End Date (this can be done either through the file import or the user interface). Refer to the Guide to Importing Users into PearsonAccessNext for instructions, or contact the MCAS Service Center for support.

Availability of Test Administration Manuals (TAMs) for the Spring 2018 MCAS Tests

Manuals are being posted to the Department's website on a rolling basis as they become available for grades 3–8 and high school. The following manuals are now posted:

Printed copies of manuals are delivered in schools' shipments of test materials according to this schedule. Each school receives one copy of the Principal's Administration Manual and one copy of each TAM for every 15 students. If a school needs additional copies, we recommend downloading the manuals from the websites listed above or contacting the MCAS Service Center for additional copies.

Reminders about Spring 2018 MCAS Testing

Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) Tests

The spring 2018 grades 5 and 8 MCAS STE tests will be computer-based, with test questions aligned to the "overlapping" 2001/06 and 2016 standards. Students will experience new question types, but student scores will be based only on legacy question types (i.e., multiple-choice and open-response). Note that the test designs will be available soon (and schools will be informed through an upcoming Student Assessment Update).

The operational, legacy, paper-based high school STE tests are aligned to the standards in the 2001/06 STE Curriculum Framework.

Grade 10 Testing

High schools must participate in the grade 10 MCAS computer-based field test as well as the operational paper-based grade 10 tests. Schools are expected to have 25 percent of their students participate in the field test of the subject area to which they were assigned Download Excel Document.

Public Comment Period for History and Social Science Curriculum Framework

The Department invites educators and members of the public to provide comments on the History and Social Science Curriculum Framework Download PDF Document between January 23 and April 2, 2018.

Important Dates

  • January 31–February 13: SR/PNP initial registration window for grade 10 MCAS ELA and Mathematics (Mathematics registrations can be updated during the March 12–23 window.)
  • February 5–6: MCAS high school Biology administration dates
  • February 7, 8, 14, 15: MCAS training sessions (Register)
  • February 12: Deadline for pickup of MCAS high school Biology materials
  • February 7: Last date to administer ACCESS for ELLs sessions
  • February 9: Deadline for pickup of ACCESS for ELLs materials
  • February 14: MCAS March retest materials scheduled to arrive in schools
  • February 15: MCAS November retest parent/guardian reports scheduled to arrive in districts


Subscriber Information

Principals, MCAS test coordinators, special education directors, and EL program 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, educational collaboratives, and 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."

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: February 7, 2018

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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