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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: February 6, 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

  1. Test Administration Manuals for Spring 2019
    The 2019 Principal's Administration Manual and the two Test Administrator's Manuals are now available in the MCAS Resource Center (click on the "MCAS Test Administration Resources" dropdown menu), and they will also soon be available on the DESE website. Printed copies of manuals will be delivered in schools' shipments of test materials according to this schedule. Each school receives one copy of the Principal's Administration Manual. Each school also receives one copy of each Test Administrator's Manual for every 15 students, based on registration in the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP).

    If a school needs additional copies, we recommend downloading the manuals from the website listed above or contacting the MCAS Service Center to request copies.

  2. CSV File of First-Year ELs
    The Department has placed CSV files in schools' DropBoxes that update students' first-year English learner (EL) status. The original SR/PNP file did not identify all first-year ELs. The new file should be used to identify any students who are first-year ELs, in addition to those identified as ELs in column L of the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP). This file can be useful for schools seeking to identify first-year ELs who will not participate in ELA testing because their participation is optional (as a reminder, participation is required in Mathematics and STE testing).

    Please contact the Office of Student Assessment Services with any questions about the file (see contact information in the header of this update). For assistance with updating the SR/PNP, please contact the MCAS Service Center.

  3. Updated Instructions for PearsonAccess Next (PAN) Accounts
    The January 8 Student Assessment Update contained an error regarding the procedure for resetting user accounts that have been disabled due to inactivity. In order to activate such an account, a user with an active account must edit the inactive user's account in PAN, as follows:

    1. Go to Setup > Users to locate the user's account.
    2. Select the ""Disabled" filter from the Account Status dropdown menu.
    3. Select the inactive account, select the Create/Edit Users task, and click Start.
    4. Select the inactive account and change the account status to Enabled.
    5. Verify the Active End Date (the account will not be active if the end date is in the past).

    If no one in your organization has an active account, or if you have other questions, please contact the MCAS Service Center (see contact information in the header of this update).

    Here are updated instructions for handling PearsonAccess Next accounts that have been deleted:

    1. Go to Setup > Users to locate the user's account.
    2. Select the "Deleted" filter from the Account Status dropdown menu.
    3. Select the deleted account, select the Delete/Restore Users task, and click Start.
    4. Select the deleted account and click Delete/Restore Users.
    5. Verify that the account is enabled. If not, then follow the steps above for resetting user accounts that have been disabled due to inactivity.

    If you need to enable or restore a large number of user accounts, you may use the Guide to Importing Users into PearsonAccess Next. Please contact the MCAS Service Center with any questions about this procedure.

  4. MCAS Training Sessions
    The recording from the Test Security and Administration Protocols session for returning staff on January 29 is now available. The recording of the session for new staff who were not able to attend the session on February 5 will be available at this link in approximately one week. New principals who did not participate in one of the live sessions are expected to view the recording.

    Registration is available for the following training sessions:

    SessionDate and TimeAudience
    Pre-Administration Tasks for Technology Staff for new staff February 12,
    9:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
    Technology coordinators
    Overview of Infrastructure Trials for returning staff February 13,
    10:00–11:30 a.m.
    Principals, test coordinators, technology coordinators
    Overview of Infrastructure Trials for new staff February 15,
    9:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
    Principals, test coordinators, technology coordinators

    A special district presentation will be added to the Overview of Infrastructure Trials sessions. The presentation will be led by the Swampscott Public Schools test administration team (Lytania Mackey Knowles, Director of Technology & Digital Learning, and Catie Porter Roberts, Digital Learning Specialist & Professional Development Coordinator).

  5. MCAS Alternate Assessment (MCAS-Alt) Portfolios-in-Progress Training Sessions
    Registration for the MCAS-Alt Portfolios-in-Progress training sessions is now available. These portfolio review sessions are intended for teachers who are conducting the MCAS-Alt with their students with significant disabilities. Please encourage teachers to attend one of the sessions listed below. All sessions are scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon.

    • Wednesday, February 27, at the Holiday Inn in Taunton
    • Thursday, February 28, at the Doubletree in Danvers
    • Tuesday, March 5, at the Best Western in Marlborough
    • Wednesday, March 6, at Tower Square in Springfield

    Note that the "Introduction to MCAS-Alt" training will not be offered on these dates.

  6. New Accommodations for English Learners Participating in Next-Generation Tests and High School Retests
    In 2019, English learners (ELs) will have access to several EL accommodations not previously available on legacy MCAS tests. Pages 27–29 of the Accessibility and Accommodations Manual contain a list of these accommodations and their descriptions.

    It is strongly recommended that accommodations for individual ELs be determined by the student's teacher and other adults familiar with the student's language needs, preferences, and learning profile; and that the selected accommodations be documented using a sample form (or a similar locally developed form) like the one provided in Appendix B of the Accessibility and Accommodations Manual.

  7. Reminder: Deadlines for Registration for the Spring 2019 MCAS Tests: Feb. 8 (Grades 3–8) and Feb. 12 (Grade 10)
    Schools must complete the SR/PNP process by the dates listed below to order student test materials for the spring 2019 MCAS tests. More information was provided in the January 22 Student Assessment Update.

    Grades/TestsPre-Administration SR/PNP Window*Extended SR/PNP Window**
    Grades 3–8January 28–February 8February 11–March 15
    Grade 10 January 30–February 12February 13–March 11 for ELA, and
    February 13–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 online at during the additional materials window.

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

    Here are additional resources, in addition to the ones described in the January 22 update:

    The SR/PNP for the operational high school STE tests and the high school Biology and Introductory Physics field tests will be completed in April, and more information about the SR/PNP for these administrations will be provided this spring.

  8. Reminder: 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 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 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 roles 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.

Other Important Dates

CategoryDate(s)ItemResources for More Information
ACCESS for ELLsFebruary 8Last date to administer ACCESS for ELLs sessions, and deadline for pickup of ACCESS for ELLs materialsTesting schedule
Reporting: November retestFebruary 13November retest Parent/Guardian Reports delivered to districtsN/A
February Biology administrationFebruary 6Biology Session 1Testing schedule
February 7Biology Session 2
March retest administrationFebruary 25Schools receive March retest materialsTesting schedule
February 25–28Schools complete the PCPA "before testing" section, report packing discrepancies, and order additional materials


Resources Currently Available:

Download Excel Document
Device planner
View External Link
Hardware and software specifications for TestNav
View External Link
Hardware and software specifications for ProctorCache
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: February 6, 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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