Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: December 11, 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. Registration for January Training Sessions Now Available
    Registration is now available for the January 2019 MCAS training sessions.

    While these training sessions will be differentiated by level of computer-based testing (CBT) experience, all are welcome at each session. Sessions for returning staff will be held before the ones for new staff so that school teams can determine if they need to also participate in the second.

    All principals are encouraged to participate in one of the sessions on test security and administration protocols, and new high school principals are expected to participate. Principals who cannot participate in one of the sessions (January 29 and 31) may view a recording to fulfill the expectation.

  2. MCAS Student Questionnaire — Grades 4, 5, 8, and 10
    New for 2019, the student questionnaire will be administered in grade 4, as well as grades 5, 8, and 10 (this is the first year the questionnaire will be administered in grade 4). Summary reports and the questions from the 2018 student questionnaires administered in grades 5, 8, and 10 can be found on the Department's website, and questions may be directed to Shelagh Peoples in the Office of Planning and Research via email or by calling 781-338-3220.

  3. Passwords for the MCAS Service Center
    New passwords for the MCAS Service Center will be sent via US mail in early January 2019 for tasks related to tests given in the 2019 calendar year. Passwords will be addressed to the attention of the principal, and a roster of passwords for all the schools in the district will be sent to superintendents.

    High school principals need to retain their 2018 passwords for the following:

    • November retest composition images (planned to be available in January)
    • Adams scholarship rosters and letters (new starting with the class of 2018)

    All principals will use the new password beginning in 2019 for the following:

    • Completing the Principal's Certification of Proper Test Administration (PCPA)
    • Ordering MCAS Alternate Assessment (MCAS-Alt) portfolio materials
    • Completing the MCAS-Alt PCPA

    Questions about passwords should be directed to the MCAS Service Center (see contact information in the header of this update).

  4. Registration for the MCAS Alternate Assessment: January 7–18, 2019
    Schools administering the MCAS Alternate Assessment (MCAS-Alt) must order submission materials January 7–18, 2019 (this is a separate step from completing the SR/PNP to register students for the standard MCAS tests). Please check with teachers in your school to verify the number of students taking the MCAS-Alt in each grade.

    Beginning January 7, MCAS-Alt materials can be ordered by following these steps:

    • Go online to the MCAS Service Center and select MCAS Alternate Assessment.
    • Click Enrollment Verification.
    • Log in with your school's 2019 password (see item 4 in this update above).
    • Confirm contact and school information by following the onscreen prompts.
    • Order materials for students in each grade who are taking the MCAS-Alt.
    • Click Submit.
    • Print the confirmation page for your records.

  5. ACCESS for ELLs

    • The testing window for ACCESS for ELLs and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs begins on Thursday, January 3, 2019 and ends on Friday, February 8, 2019.
    • Test materials and Pre-ID labels will be delivered on January 2, 2019.
    • The ordering window for additional materials will be available Wednesday, January 2, 2019 through Thursday, January 31, 2019.
      • Schools will continue to order materials to ship directly to their site.
      • Schools are encouraged to limit additional materials orders to a single request from each school, if additional materials are required.

  6. Reminders from the Previous Update

    1. MCAS-Alt Training Sessions: Registration Now Open
      MCAS-Alt Portfolios-in-Progress portfolio review sessions and one final MCAS-Alt introduction training session are scheduled for January. Registration is now available.

    2. ACCESS for ELLs Online Test Set-Up: Complete by February 8, 2019
      Test coordinators will need to update student information, place students into sessions, and print tickets in preparation for the 2019 ACCESS for ELLs administration. These tasks will need to be completed by February 8. More information is provided in the December 3 EL Update.

For High Schools

  1. Reminder: 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. A response is required from each high school by December 14, including from schools that do not have students participating in this administration. More information was provided in the November 27 Student Assessment Update.

  2. Updated Adams Scholarship Letters and Rosters
    High schools will be receiving additional letters for students in the class of 2019 who have qualified to receive the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship according to the details below:

    • December 20: Letters and rosters posted in the MCAS Service Center
    • January 8: Printed letters delivered to districts

    The letter is important because students must provide a copy of it along with their completed FAFSA application each year. Without this letter, the college/university will not apply the tuition credit.

    Schools will need to do the following:

    • Make copies of the letters for students' files for future reference.
    • (Recommended) Designate an individual in the school to be the point of contact for the letters.
    • Inform students of the name of the person at the school whom they can contact if they have any questions about the scholarship or the letter.

Happy New Year and What's Next from Student Assessment Services

This is the last edition of the Student Assessment Update for 2018. All of us in Student Assessment Services would like to thank you and the educators in your schools for all the work you do on behalf of students, and would like to wish you a happy and safe holiday season and new year.

The next edition of the Student Assessment Update (scheduled to be sent on January 8, 2019) will include additional information in preparation for the spring assessments. To help us improve future updates, please send us your input, particularly on the following:

  • The Student Assessment Update Newsletters: Have we been covering the topics you need, and do you have any suggestions for improvement? Are there topics for future updates you'd like to suggest?
  • Resources on the Department's MCAS website and the MCAS Resource Center: Are the resources easy to find, and are there any resources that you suggest that we add?
  • Your school's MCAS resources: Has your school developed resources (e.g., for training test administrators) that you would like to share with others?

Other Important Dates

CategoryDate(s)ItemResources for More Information
Required deadline for high schools: Feb. Biology December 14 Deadline to import the SR/PNP for the February Biology test into PearsonAccess Next
ACCESS for ELLsJanuary 2, 2019Schools receive ACCESS for ELLs materialsTesting schedule
January 2–31Schools order additional ACCESS for ELLs materials
Jan. 3–Feb. 8ACCESS for ELLs administration
Reporting: November retest January 14November retest scores in .CSV files available in DropBox Central in DESE's Security PortalN/A
January 18 November retest reports available:
February 13November retest Parent/Guardian Reports arrive in district
Required deadline for high schools: March retestJanuary 7–18 Deadline to import the SR/PNP for the March retests into PearsonAccess NextSame resources as above for the SR/PNP for Feb. Biology


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: December 11, 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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