Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: February 27, 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

Grade 10 Field Test Student Sample

As you know, high schools must participate in the grade 10 MCAS computer-based field test as well as the operational paper-based grade 10 tests. Schools have been assigned Download Excel Document to take part in either the ELA or Mathematics field test, and each school is expected to have 25 percent of its students participate in the assigned subject area. To assist schools with selecting the 25 percent sample, the Department will be posting two .CSV files, both in the SR/PNP file layout, in the Department's Security Portal in DropBox Central. The files will be posted in the MCAS 2018 Data folder by Friday, March 2. The files are based on the operational SR/PNP data—not on SIMS.
  • One file contains a random selection of the school's grade 10 students.
  • The other file contains all of the school's eligible grade 10 students. If your school chooses not to use the ESE-generated random sample of students, this second file can be used to do a random selection as described in this guidance Download Word Document.
Note that the following students will not be included in either file, since these groups of students are exempt from participating in the field test:
  • first-year English learners (ELs)
  • students with disabilities who take the MCAS Alternate Assessment
  • students who require a Braille edition test
  • repeating grade 10 students
If a school has a small number of grade 10 students, the school may use the ESE-generated file or another method of your choice for selecting a minimum of 25 percent of the eligible students. Schools should complete the random selection process between March 12 and 23. By the end of that period, students need to be registered for the field tests in the SR/PNP, and schools should begin preparing students using the resources described in the February 6 Student Assessment Update. Thank you for your attention to this important step. Questions about the SR/PNP can be directed to the MCAS Service Center, and questions about the random sample can be directed to the Department's Office of Student Assessment Services.

Reminder to Administer an Infrastructure Trial for Computer-Based Testing

The Department strongly recommends that schools run an infrastructure trial prior to live computer-based testing. The infrastructure trial acts as a "dry run" by simulating test?day network utilization and administration protocols. The trial will help to confirm that TestNav is configured to run successfully on student devices, that the network is functioning as expected, and that staff and students are familiar with assessment features and protocols. At this time, all non-accommodated and text-to-speech practice tests are available in the MCAS PAN training site under the Spring 2018 MCAS Gr. 3–8 administration. Information on conducting an infrastructure trial, including the Infrastructure Trial Guide, can be found at MCAS Resource Center Technology Setup page. Self-directed modules and recordings of prior training sessions conducted by the Department can be found at MCAS Resource Center Training page.

Availability of Spring 2018 MCAS Test Administration Manuals

Grades 3–8
The Principal's Administration Manual (PAM) and all of the Test Administrator's Manuals (TAMs) for both CBT and PBT are now posted. On the same page, you will find Word documents for the forms in the grades 3–8 PAM, as well as the test security requirements for training other school staff who will not serve as test administrators.
Grade 10/High School
The high school PAM and the grade 10 ELA TAM are now posted. The grade 10 Mathematics/high school STE TAM will be posted closer to the dates for the Mathematics administration. Also on the same page are Word documents for the forms in the high school PAM.

Interim Competency Determination Regulation

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted today, February 27, to amend regulations that govern the competency determination in order to establish an interim passing standard for the classes of 2021 and 2022 in ELA and Mathematics. The interim standard will require a similar level of achievement to the current required standard on the legacy tests: 240 (Proficient), or 220 (Needs Improvement) and the fulfillment of the requirements of an Educational Proficiency Plan (EPP) in ELA and mathematics. More information can be found at Amendments to Regulations on MCAS and Competency Determination, 603 CMR 30.00, for Transition to New Standard.

iOS Update Required for TestNav

Apple recently released iOS 11.2.5 and 11.2.6 with the latest fixes and important updates that address a test security issue with iOS versions 11 through 11.2.2. Due to this, TestNav will block iOS versions 11 through 11.2.2, so schools running these iOS versions must update to at least 11.2.5 prior to testing. Schools running supported versions of iOS 10 may continue to use those without issue.

ChromeOS 64 Support Added for TestNav

Support was recently added for ChromeOS 64. TestNav will now support Chrome 57 through 64. It is recommended that schools upgrading to ChromeOS 64 turn off the auto-update setting through the end of test administration in order to prevent upgrading during administration to a version that is not yet supported.

Updated First-Year English Learner file posted in 2018 MCAS Data DropBoxes

On February 12, the Department placed an updated file in school, district, and educational collaborative DropBoxes to assist you with identifying spring 2018 MCAS participation requirements for first-year English learner (EL) students. The updated file includes a list of all EL students, as identified in your October 2017 SIMS. For each EL student, the file also includes the projected number of years the student will have been enrolled as of the March 2018 SIMS. Students flagged as "Yes" in the file will be within their first year of enrollment as of March 1, 2018, and therefore are not required to participate in the spring 2018 ELA testing. Students flagged as "No" are projected to have been enrolled for more than one year as of March 1, 2018, and are therefore required to participate in the spring 2018 ELA test.

MCAS Training Session Requirement

As a reminder, new principals were expected to participate in a training session on MCAS test security and administration protocols. (The session for high schools was held on January 23, and sessions for grades 3–8 were held on February 7 and 8.) If a principal was not able to participate, the recordings of the sessions are available in the MCAS Resource Center (along with other sessions that were previously offered).

Upcoming MCAS Training Sessions

The Department will be hosting "office hours" sessions on March 1, April 4, and April 24. During each session, Department staff will make brief presentations, and then schools will have the opportunity to ask questions. The list of upcoming sessions and topics to be covered, along with registration links, is posted at Training Opportunities webpage. We encourage principals to invite their test administration team, including test administrators, to the session on March 1.

2018 MCAS-Alt Reminders

  1. Your school's shipment of pre-ordered 2018 MCAS-Alt portfolio submission materials will arrive the week of February 26. Please immediately open the box in order to certify that the quantity of materials received is accurate. Follow instructions to complete Section 2 of the online MCAS-Alt PCPA by clicking on "MCAS Alternate Assessment," then clicking on "Principal's Certification."

  2. To order additional MCAS-Alt submission materials, go to the MCAS Service Center online, click on "MCAS Alternate Assessment" and then "Order Additional Materials," and then follow the prompts.

  3. The submission deadline for MCAS-Alt portfolios is 5:00 p.m., March 29. If you have questions, please contact either Student Assessment at or the MCAS Service Center at 800-737-5103.

Important Dates

  • March 1: March Retest ELA Reading Comprehension Sessions 1 and 2
  • March 2: March Retest ELA Reading Comprehension Session 3
  • March 5: March Retest Mathematics Session 1
  • March 6: March Retest Mathematics Session 2
  • March 7: Deadline for regular make-up testing for March retest
  • March 8: Deadline for updating SR/PNP information, completing the PCPA, and scheduling UPS pickup for March retest
  • March 9: Deadline for UPS pickup for March retest
  • March 12–23: Update the SR/PNP for Grade 10 Mathematics, if necessary
  • March 12–23: Complete the SR/PNP process for the Grade 10 ELA and Mathematics field test
  • March 13: Receive test materials for Grade 10 ELA test


View External Link
Infrastructure Trial Guide
View External Link
Guide to the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile Process
View External Link
Guidelines for Using Assistive Technology

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 27, 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


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.