Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: April 24, 2018

Contact Information

MCAS Service Center
Phone: 800-737-5103
for logistical and technology support, including questions about PearsonAccess Next and TestNav

Student Assessment Services
Phone: 781-338-3625
for policy questions, including student participation

Latest Updates from Student Assessment Services

Test Administration Reminders

As test administration continues, the Department would like to remind schools of the following:

  • Students should test on the same device whenever possible, and test administrators should keep track of which device each student is using for testing. Each student's response file is automatically saved to the testing device, so if a file needs to be manually retrieved, the student's device must be able to be identified.
  • Chromebooks should be checked to ensure device settings are set to keep local data so that the saved response file (SRF) and log files don't accidentally get deleted if it is powered off or restarted.
  • Typed responses must be returned in the Special Handling envelopes to ensure timely and efficient processing.
  • Test administrators should verify student accommodations before students start a computer-based test. Schools are encouraged to review the Resolving Incorrect Accommodations During Testing module.

New for 2018: Early Reporting of Preliminary Spring MCAS Results

The Department will be providing new early reporting files for grades 3–8 in the Published Reports section of PearsonAccess Next (PAN). The early reporting files will include raw score item-level results and reporting category results as follows:

  • Round 1 (June 4): all machine-scored CBT items
    • ELA — selected response
    • Math — selected response & short answer (students tested by 5/25)
    • STE — multiple choice (students tested by 5/25)
  • Round 2 (June 29): Round 1 + all ELA & Math hand-scored items
    • ELA — CBT/PBT essays & short answer
    • Math — CBT/PBT open & constructed response, short answer
    • STE — CBT/PBT multiple choice only (no hand scored items)

These reports can be accessed by PAN users with the Superintendent/District Test Coordinator and Principal/School Test Coordinator roles. After the initial June 4 release, a new "Published Reports" add-on role can be assigned locally as needed to additional PAN users, such as teachers or curriculum coordinators, by editing existing user accounts.

Preliminary grade 10 ELA and mathematics results will be available in late June and posted in Dropboxes as in prior years.

Please note that early release data are embargoed, and results should be used for educational planning purposes only.

For more detailed information, see the April 24 "Office Hours" session, which is scheduled to be posted on the training page of the MCAS Resource Center during the first week of May.

Grade 10 ELA and Mathematics Field Test Information

Students taking the Grade 10 ELA or Mathematics field tests must be registered and assigned to PearsonAccess Next sessions on the live site under "Grade 10 Field Test Administration." Once students log into their tests using the testing tickets provided on the live site, they will receive grade 10 content.

Grade 10 Field Test and Question Tryout Manuals

The MCAS Service Center recently emailed the Principal's Administration Instructions and the Test Administrator's Instructions (TAI) to high schools, and the manuals are now available (click on the first dropdown on the page).

Paper copies are not being produced, and principals/designees will need to print copies of the manuals. Schools that are not participating in the question tryouts do not need to print out pages 26–32 of the TAI, since these pages contain the science scripts.

SR/PNP for High School Biology and Introductory Physics Question Tryouts

Schools that volunteered for the high school Biology and Introductory Physics question tryouts must complete the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) process by Friday, May 4.

To assist schools in registering students for the tryouts, the Department placed a pre-populated file containing a list of all grades 9 and 10 students, reported as enrolled as of March 2018 SIMS, in the MCAS 2018 folder in DropBox Central. The file should be edited to remove students who will not participate in a tryout and to add the appropriate question tryout test code (BIOTR or PHYTR). Pre-populated accommodations for grade 9 students are based on 2017 grade 8 STE accommodations; accommodations for grade 10 students are based on applicable 2018 grade 10 math accommodations.

Please refer to the Guide to the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) Process for the 2017-2018 MCAS Tests, posted on the MCAS Resource Center, for more information.

Opportunity to Give Input on MCAS Administration

To help the Department evaluate the testing experience and determine how it can be improved, DESE will provide voluntary questionnaires to educators who were involved in test administration and high school students who participated in grade 10 field testing.

While it is important for schools to email or call for support during test administration when pressing matters arise, we encourage test administration teams to take notes during testing so that they will be prepared to complete the questionnaire for educators when it becomes available. The Department will provide a link to it in an upcoming Student Assessment Update, and the questionnaire will remain online from May 14 to June 15.

High schools administering the grade 10 field tests will receive links to the student questionnaires (one link for ELA, and one for Mathematics) via email when the questionnaires become available midweek. They must be completed by May 18 (one week after the field-test administration closes).

Grades 3–8 Schools: Reminder about Updating Data in PearsonAccess Next

Schools are reminded that information in PearsonAccess Next (for CBT as well as for PBT administrations) should be updated throughout administration in the following situations:

  • when students are added to or removed from your school's enrollment
  • when accommodations that were wrong in the initial SR/PNP or are added to or removed from students' IEPs or 504 plans
  • when a student refuses accommodations during testing
  • for CBT: when a student does not participate (i.e., the student is medically documented or absent for another reason)
  • for CBT: when a student is participating in the MCAS-Alt for a given subject area
  • for CBT: when a student's test is marked "void"

Instructions for updating student data (for CBT and PBT) are provided on pages 58–59 of the Spring 2018 Principal's Administration Manual, Grades 3–8. Note that certain CBT accommodations can only be updated during the formal discrepancy period in August (i.e., TTS, screen reader, assistive technology).

Resources from the April 4 "Office Hours" Session

The recording and slides from the April 4 "office hours" session are now available. The following topics were covered, and schools with questions on these topics are encouraged to view the slides and recording for information:

  • Managing tests for students who transfer during the administration window
  • Managing tests for students who do not participate in testing (e.g., students with a medically documented absence, first-year English learners whose participation in ELA testing is optional)
  • Considerations for make-up testing
  • Troubleshooting tips

Important Dates

Upcoming Dates for Grades 3–8 MCAS Tests

  • Now–May 4: Grades 3–8 ELA administration
  • Now–May 25: Grades 3–8 Mathematics administration
  • Now–May 25: Grades 3–8 STE administration
  • April 30: Deadline for scheduling early UPS pickup for PBT materials
  • May 7: Grades 3–8 ELA deadline for updating SR/PNP information, if necessary; for completing the PCPA; and for scheduling UPS pickup of PBT materials
  • May 8: Deadline for grades 3–8 ELA UPS pickup of PBT materials

Upcoming Dates for Grade 10/High School MCAS Tests

  • Now–May 4: Download MCAS/EPP test materials from MassEdu Gateway (formerly the Department's Security Portal)
  • Now–May 4: MCAS/EPP Mathematics administration
  • Now–May 11: Grade 10 ELA and Mathematics field test administration
  • April 30: Interactive reports for the March retest available in Edwin Analytics
  • May 18: Parent/Guardian reports for the February Biology test and March retest delivered to districts via UPS


View HTML Page
Grade 10 MCAS Next-Gen Resources
Download PDF Document
Release of February 2018 MCAS Biology Test Items
Download Excel Document
February 2018 MCAS Biology Raw-to-Scaled Score Conversion Table

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: April 25, 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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