Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: January 8, 2019

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. Practice Tests Posted for All Grades and Subjects
    Updated MCAS English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science and Technology/Engineering practices tests and related resources are now posted. Some special versions of the practice tests are still in the process of being posted and will be announced in an upcoming update: text-to-speech versions for the high school Biology and Introductory Physics field tests, and the English/Spanish and ASL versions of the grade 10 Mathematics practice test.

    Additional resources will be posted as available, including test administration manuals, which are expected to be available in the coming weeks.

  2. Upcoming MCAS Training Sessions
    As you know from previous updates, various sessions are being offered to train you and your test administration teams in administration and security protocols as well as procedures.

    Those of you who participated in training sessions in 2018 will remember that we included a local perspective for some of the training sessions; we are looking to institute this again in 2019. We are now writing to extend a warm invitation to principals/test coordinators with two or more years of computer-based testing experience to present on your district's/school's local procedures and perspective during some of the sessions this winter. Email us for more details.

  3. PearsonAccess Next Passwords and Accounts: Confirm Accounts at This Time
    School and district staff who had access to PearsonAccess Next (PAN) during the previous school year should log into PAN to make sure their accounts are still active. If you are able to log into your account successfully, no further action is needed at this time. Accounts that were automatically disabled will receive an error message upon log-in; resetting the password will enable the account.

    In addition, principals should review the User Role Matrix to confirm that school and district staff have the appropriate PAN accounts. Principals should designate a member of their team to add/remove accounts for the test administration team for 2019. This task can be done manually, or by uploading a file for large numbers of new accounts. For support, refer to the Guide to Importing Users into PearsonAccess Next for creating a large number of new accounts and contact the MCAS Service Center with questions (see contact information in the header of this update).

    The spring administrations will be available in PAN as follows:
    • Grade 10 ELA and Mathematics: on January 15
    • Grades 3–8: on January 24

    Schools are encouraged to set up accounts for new test administrators close to these dates so that the test administration team can practice in the PAN training site. More information on PAN will be provided in upcoming training sessions and in the Infrastructure Trial Guide, which will be available in the coming weeks.

  4. Reminders from the Previous Update
    1. Registration for the MCAS Alternate Assessment: Due January 18
      Schools administering the MCAS Alternate Assessment (MCAS-Alt) must order submission materials by January 18 (this is a separate step from completing the SR/PNP to register students for the standard MCAS tests). Refer to the previous update for instructions.

    2. Send Us Your Input
      Schools are encouraged to send us input, particularly on these updates, resources, as well as your school's resources. Refer to the previous update for details.

For High Schools

  1. Registration for the March Retests: Due January 18
    Schools must complete the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) process to order student test materials for the March ELA and Mathematics retests no later than Friday, January 18. 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 January 18, 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.
    • 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.

    To assist users in registering students, the Department has posted a .csv file of eligible students, as of the October SIMS data collection, in schools' MCAS 2019 Data folder in DESE's Security Portal. Note: there is no need to remove records for students who passed the November 2018 ELA and/or Mathematics retests, since the testing contractor will remove these records before generating Student ID Labels.

    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).

  2. Biology and Introductory Physics Field Tests
    As a reminder, high schools will administer computer-based field tests in Biology and Introductory Physics in spring 2019.

    All high schools are expected to administer the field tests to all grade 9 students taking the operational high school Biology and Introductory Physics tests, with the exception of students who require the accommodations listed below. The participation of students in grade 10 is optional/at principals' discretion. Students in grades 11 and 12 are not eligible to participate.

    The following students are not expected to participate in the field tests:
    • first-year EL students
    • students with disabilities who take the MCAS Alternate Assessment
    • repeating grade 9 students

    Since the accommodations listed below are not available on the field tests, students with disabilities and ELs who usually receive them may participate using another accommodation, or schools may exempt the student from participating in the field tests.
    • A1 and EL1 - Paper-based edition
    • A2 - Large-print edition (Note that onscreen text can be magnified.)
    • A3.1 and A3.2 - Screen reader and Braille edition
    • Unique Accommodation - Use of a compatible assistive technology device

    Students who are absent are not required to participate in the field test when they return to school. Similarly, students diagnosed with a concussion who are on a post-concussion graduated reentry plan and are not well enough to participate are not required to do so.

    The suggested administration date is June 6. The testing window is May 28–June 14, 2019, but schools may not administer the field tests on June 3, 4, or 5 (i.e., the day prior to and the days of the operational high school STE tests).

    Each subject's field test will consist of 18 questions and is expected to take 45 minutes to complete.

    We recognize that the field test will create extra work for you and your staff, but it is an essential element in designing a high-quality assessment. In future years, field testing of new questions will be done within the regular MCAS test administration.

    Schools are encouraged to use these resources in preparing students for the field tests:

  3. Update Regarding the February Biology Test
    The Department will no longer release the questions from the February Biology test in order to support future testing in this content area. Concurrent with the release of results from this administration, the Department will post a document listing the standards assessed by each question on the test.

    All test questions will continue to be released for the Biology test administered in June.

    If you have any questions on this policy, please contact the Office of Student Assessment at 781-338-3625.

Other Important Dates

CategoryDate(s)ItemResources for More Information
High School: Adams ScholarshipJanuary 8Updated Adams Scholarship letters and rosters delivered to districtsPrevious update
MCAS-AltJanuary 8, 9, 10, 17, and 18Training sessionsRegistration
ACCESS for ELLsJanuary 2–31Schools order additional ACCESS for ELLs materialsTesting schedule
Jan. 3–Feb. 8ACCESS for ELLs administration
Reporting: November retestJanuary 14November retest scores in .CSV files available in DropBox Central in DESE's Security PortalN/A
January 18November retest reports available:
February 13November retest Parent/Guardian Reports delivered to districts
Spring Test Administrations
  • Jan. 28–Feb. 8
  • Jan. 30–Feb. 12
  • SR/PNP for grades 3–8
  • SR/PNP for grade 10
Same resources as above for the SR/PNP for the March retests


Resources Currently Available:

View HTML Page
Grade 10 next-generation MCAS resources
View External Link
Blank CBT response boxes
View HTML Page
Grades 5 and 8 STE test designs

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: January 8, 2019

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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