Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: January 22, 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. Opportunity to Serve on a History and Social Science Assessment Committee for Grade 8 Civics: Apply by February 1
    We are looking for public school educators with expertise in teaching civics, government, and/or U.S. history to serve as members of the History and Social Science Assessment Development Committee for Grade 8 Civics. Committee members will be directly involved in helping the Department develop a pilot assessment for grade 8 civics.

    The deadline to complete the application is Friday, February 1. Please share this opportunity with colleagues who may be interested. We encourage educators who are of diverse backgrounds and/or teach students of diverse backgrounds to apply.

  2. Deadlines for Registration for the Spring 2019 MCAS Tests: Feb. 8 (Grades 3–8) and Feb. 12 (Grade 10)
    Schools must complete the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) process on the dates specified in the table below to order student computer-based and paper-based tests for spring 2019. (High schools should note there will be additional SR/PNP windows for the operational STE test as well as the Biology and Introductory Physics field tests.)

    Grades/TestsPre-Administration SR/PNP Window*Extended SR/PNP Window**
    Grades 3–8January 28–February 8February 11–March 15
    Grade 10January 30–February 12February 13–March 11 for ELA, and through May 3 for Mathematics

    * Schools must complete the SR/PNP by February 8 for grades 3–8 and February 12 for grade 10, in order to receive an initial shipment of manuals for computer-based testing (CBT) and paper-based testing (PBT) as well as PBT materials for students who require them, by the dates listed in the testing schedule. For students doing PBT, Student ID Labels cannot be generated for any students not registered in PAN by the initial SR/PNP deadlines. Any updates to the SR/PNP for PBT materials after the initial SR/PNP deadline will need to be made in PearsonAccess Next, and PBT materials must be ordered during the additional materials window online at MCAS Service Center.

    ** Schools may use the extended SR/PNP window to update student information for computer-based testing.

    To assist in completing the SR/PNP, the Department will post .CSV files for schools and districts in DESE's Security Portal in DropBox Central in the "MCAS 2019 Data folder" by the opening date of each SR/PNP window in the table above. The data files will contain a list of the students in each grade based on the most recent Student Information Management System (SIMS) submission, and we will inform schools/districts when files are posted.

    Beginning with the spring 2019 MCAS administrations, the SR/PNP process will be different for districts that use the School Interoperability Framework (SIF) to submit their SIMS data. (SIF is a real-time reporting platform that allows the Department to use up-to-the-minute student enrollment data for MCAS test registration.)

    Instructions for SIF districts:

    • The data files to be made available in DropBox Central for SIF districts will contain enrollment data submitted by January 18, 2019.
    • SIF districts may wish to create a "snap shot" of their local student information system to help identify the students who will need to be added to or removed from the data files before the files are to be imported into the SR/PNP.

    Instructions for non-SIF districts:

    • The data files to be made available in DropBox Central for non-SIF districts will contain October 2018 SIMS enrollment data.
    • Non-SIF districts will need to update the data files to be imported into the SR/PNP with any changes that occurred after the October 2018 SIMS submission.

    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 school by the pre-administration deadlines above.

    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 the total number of materials instead of completing the SR/PNP process.

    Schools that would like a refresher on how to complete the SR/PNP or that are new to the process may register for the SR/PNP training session that will be held this Thursday, January 24. In addition, the Department has made the following resources available to schools that would welcome additional 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).

  3. Upcoming MCAS Training Sessions
    As a reminder, you may still register for this month's upcoming training sessions, as well as for the following February sessions:

    • Pre-Administration Tasks for Technology Staff (for new staff)
    • Overview of Infrastructure Trials (for returning staff)
    • Overview of Infrastructure Trials (for new staff)

    Carrying on the tradition begun last year, a special district presentation will be added to the following sessions: MCAS Test Security and Administration Protocols, and Overview of Infrastructure Trials. We welcome Swampscott Public Schools test administration team members Lytania Mackey Knowles, Director of Technology & Digital Learning, and Catie Porter Roberts, Digital Learning Specialist & Professional Development Coordinator.

  4. Infrastructure Trial Window Opens February 11
    The window for conducting an Infrastructure Trial opens on February 11. On this date, the updated 2019 CBT practice tests will become available in the PearsonAccess Next (PAN) training site.

    Though the Department recommends that schools wait until February 11 to conduct an Infrastructure Trial, schools that wish to conduct one prior to this date may do so using the practice tests from 2018, and logging into the 2018 administration in PAN.

    An Infrastructure Trial is an opportunity for districts, schools, and students to prepare for MCAS computer-based testing (CBT) by simulating test-day network utilization. This "dress rehearsal" will help to confirm that all testing devices are properly configured, that school and district networks can handle online testing, and that staff members are familiar with their role in administering an online test. This trial is also an opportunity to introduce students to TestNav and allow them to practice using the online tools.

  5. Principal's Certification of Proper Test Administration for Spring MCAS Administrations
    New for spring 2019, the Principal's Certification of Proper Test Administration (PCPA) form is streamlined to reflect the shift to computer-based testing. The "before testing" section is removed, and schools will complete the PCPA only after testing for the following grades/tests. (Note that the "before testing" will remain on the PCPA for the March retests, which will be a paper-based administration.)

    Grades/TestsPCPA Forms to CompleteTotal Number of PCPAs
    Grades 3–8
    • One combined PCPA at the end of spring testing that covers all grades and subjects
    High schools
    • One combined PCPA for ELA and Mathematics at the end of Mathematics testing
    • One PCPA for the operational high school STE tests
    • One PCPA for the Biology and Introductory Physics field tests

    The purpose of the PCPA is for the principal to certify that all students participated in testing as required and that test administration and security protocols described in the Principal's Administration Manual were followed.

    Attached Download Word Document is an updated test schedule that includes fewer PCPA deadlines.

  6. Test Administration Manuals for 2019
    The following 2019 test administration manuals are expected to be available by the end of January:

    • The Principal's Administration Manual, covering grades 3–8, grade 10 ELA and Mathematics, the operational high school STE tests, and the high school Biology and Introductory Physics field tests
    • The Test Administrator's Manual for Computer-Based Testing, covering grades 3–8, grade 10 ELA and Mathematics, and the high school Biology and Introductory Physics field tests
    • The Test Administrator's Manual for Paper-Based Testing, covering grades 3–8, grade 10 ELA and Mathematics, and the operational high school STE tests

  7. Reminder from the Previous Update:

    1. Practice Tests Now Available
      Updated practice tests for 2019 for all grades and subjects are now available. Some special editions will be coming soon.

    2. PAN Passwords and Accounts: Confirm Accounts at This Time
      Schools and districts should confirm their PAN accounts at this time.

For High Schools

  1. Reminders from the Previous Update

    1. Biology and Introductory Physics Field Tests
      Resources for the spring 2019 Biology and Introductory Physics field tests are now available.

    2. February Biology Test Update
      The Department will no longer release the questions from the February Biology test in order to support future testing in this content area. Standards for each item will continue to be released.

Other Important Dates

CategoryDate(s)ItemResources for More Information
ACCESS for ELLsJanuary 31Deadline for schools to order additional ACCESS for ELLs materialsTesting schedule
February 8Last date to administer ACCESS for ELLs sessions, and deadline for pickup of ACCESS for ELLs materials
November retest
Currently available Composition images in the MCAS Service Center (Use your 2018 Service Center password.)N/A
January 22Edwin Analytics interactive reports in DESE's Security Portal
February 13November retest Parent/Guardian Reports delivered to districts
February Biology administrationJanuary 30Schools receive February Biology materialsTesting schedule
Jan. 30–Feb. 4Schools complete the PCPA "before testing" section, report packing discrepancies, and order additional materials
February 6Biology Session 1
February 7Biology Session 2


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
View External Link
Best Practices for MCAS Computer-Based Testing Set-Up, Administration, and Troubleshooting
View External Link
Recording of the January 15 Accessibility and Accommodations training session

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 22, 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


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.