Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: November 27, 2018

Contact Information

MCAS Service CenterEmail: mcas@measuredprogress.orgPhone: 800-737-5103
for logistical and technology support, including questions about PearsonAccess Next and TestNav
Student Assessment ServicesEmail: mcas@doe.mass.eduPhone: 781-338-3625
for policy questions, including student participation

Latest Updates from Student Assessment Services

For All Schools

  1. Blank CBT Response Boxes Now Updated
    Blank CBT response boxes, which allow students to practice answering constructed-response questions using TestNav, have been updated. For ELA and STE, students can answer the constructed-response question and use the blue arrow at the top of the screen to submit a final answer. Educators can then view the student response and print the screen to review students' work (this is the same functionality as in the practice tests).

    Calculators are embedded in the Mathematics and STE response boxes for the grade levels where a calculator is required during MCAS testing.

    Educators may want to have students use the blank response boxes on their computers in conjunction with a question written or projected on the board. To access the blank CBT response boxes from the MCAS Resource Center, click on "Practice Tests," then the subject area, and then the grade level to view the practice tests. The blank CBT response boxes are listed in the "Resources" section on the right-hand side.

  2. MCAS CBT Waiver Requests
    The deadline for requesting a waiver from the expectation of computer-based testing in spring 2019 has now passed, and we are now in the process of communicating decisions to districts. However, if your district was not aware of the deadline and needs to submit a request, email as soon as possible.

  3. Sessions Scheduled for January
    Portfolios-in-Progress Portfolio Review Sessions
    Portfolio review sessions for educators conducting the MCAS-Alt will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on the dates shown below. Educators can bring their students' portfolios and their questions to a review session and receive feedback from an MCAS-Alt training specialist. Teachers can also use this time to continue working on their students' portfolios.

    Registration is now available, and a flyer Download Word Document will be emailed to educators, principals, educational collaborative directors, and administrators of special education on November 28.

    Portfolios-in-Progress dates and locations are shown below.

    January 8, 2019
    January 9, 2019
    Best Western,
    January 17, 2019
    Holiday Inn,
    January 18, 2019
    Tower Square,

    MCAS-Alt Introduction Session
    One final MCAS-Alt introduction training session will be offered on Thursday, January 10, 2019 (8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.) at the Best Western Hotel in Marlborough for teachers conducting the MCAS-Alt for the first time who were unable to attend an Introduction to MCAS-Alt training session in October. Registration is now available.

  4. ACCESS for ELLs Online Test Set-Up
    The Department will preload student data into the WIDA Assessment Management System (AMS) for students who were reported as ELs in your district's October 2018 SIMS report. Test coordinators will be able to review and edit this information between December 3, 2018 and February 8, 2019. During this time, you will be able to:

    • manage students by entering accommodations and information for those students who arrived after the October SIMS submission or whose information is incorrect;
    • place students into test sessions; and
    • print test tickets.

    Schools should have already received additional information from Data Recognition Corporation, the testing vendor, on November 26. Additional information will be included in the next EL Assessment Update, scheduled for December 3.

For High Schools

  1. Registration for the February Biology Test: Due December 14
    Schools must complete the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) process to order student test materials for the February Biology test between December 3 and 14.

    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 14, 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 before the deadline:

    • If no students will participate in the 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 do 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 to place an order for a total number of materials instead of completing the SR/PNP process.

    The following resources are available for guidance in completing the SR/PNP:

    Questions about ordering test materials can be directed to the MCAS Service Center, and questions about policies or participation guidelines can be directed to the Office of Student Assessment Services (see contact information in the header of this update).

Other Important Dates

CategoryDate(s)ItemResources for More Information
Required deadline for high schools: Feb. Biology December 3 SR/PNP file of students eligible for the February Biology test posted to DropBoxes in the Security Portal (and SR/PNP window opens)
December 14 Deadline to import the SR/PNP for the February Biology test into PearsonAccess Next


Resources Currently Available:

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: November 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


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