Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: February 27, 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. Reminder to Complete an Infrastructure Trial for Computer-Based Testing (CBT)
    As you know, the Department strongly recommends that schools conduct an Infrastructure Trial prior to actual testing to confirm that the network is functioning as expected, and that students and staff are familiar with testing procedures. At this time, all of the practice tests are available for schools to use in conducting Infrastructure Trials, with the exception of the grade 10 Mathematics English/Spanish edition (to be available soon).

    A question came up during the training sessions regarding the use of groups in PearsonAccess Next to add students to Sessions. We want to remind you that groups are used only in the Infrastructure Trial, and not during actual testing. Instructions on setting up groups can be found in the Infrastructure Trial Readiness Guide (updated February 2019).

    As part of the Infrastructure Trial, schools will set up their proctor caching machines. New for 2019: Schools using Mac OS devices for their proctor caching machine should note the need to use the previous version of the ProctorCache software, since the ProctorCache software for Mac OS is not being updated for 2019. Contact the MCAS Service Center for instructions.

  2. Technology Preparations for Spring 2019 Testing
    Schools are encouraged to review the 2019 technology specifications and share them with their technology coordinator. If technology coordinators did not participate in the Pre-Administration Technology Tasks webinar, the recording is now available.

    While students are taking the practice tests, if iPads and tablets are allowable testing devices, it is important to meet with technology staff to determine if wired keyboards will be needed for students. There are known presentation issues when testing using iPads and other tablets, including screen jumping when using the built-in keyboard and less space to view the prompt when writing essay responses. The Department recommends using a wired, external keyboard for testing to help mitigate these issues.

  3. Resources and Timeline to Prepare for Computer-Based Testing
    Principals are encouraged to use the checklist found on page 48 of the Principal's Administration Manual Download PDF Document (PAM) to keep track of the tasks related to test administration.

    Student Tutorial, Practice Tests, and Other Resources
    Schools are encouraged to administer the student tutorial (now updated with American Sign Language and English/Spanish instructions) and practice tests to students, including students who previously participated in computer-based testing.

    Practice tests are available online and can also be accessed via the TestNav app. See page 44 of the PAM for more information. (A third way to access the practice tests is through the Infrastructure Trial; more information on Infrastructure Trials is provided below.)

    PowerPoint for Training Test Administrators
    The timeline in the PAM checklist suggests training test administrators two weeks before test administration, since this is when printed copies of manuals will be delivered to schools. However, since some schools may want to begin their training now, view Download PowerPoint File a newly developed PowerPoint template that principals may want to use as part of their training.

    Forms from the PAM
    Sample administration forms and materials are now available on the Department's website (instead of in the PAM). Many of these forms are now in a format that can be easily completed online.

  4. MCAS Training Sessions

    Registration is available for the following training sessions:
    SessionDate and TimeAudience
    "Office Hours" Session 1:
    • Creating, Preparing, and Starting PAN Sessions
    • Monitoring and Managing PAN Sessions
      (tasks for test administrators)
    • Enrollment Transfers in PAN
    March 12
    at 10:00–11:30 a.m.
    Principals, test coordinators, test administrators
    "Office Hours" Session 2:
    • Updating Accommodations in PAN Before Testing
    • Resolving Incorrect Accommodations After Testing Has Begun
    • Resuming Students from "Active" Status
    • Stopping a PAN Session
    • Not Tested Reasons
    March 21
    at 10:00–11:30 a.m.
    Principals, test coordinators

    "Office hours" sessions have a slightly shorter presentation so that there can be ample opportunity for questions. Note that the first session will cover tasks for test administrators; schools are encouraged to plan for a conference room so many people can attend.

    Recordings of all previously offered sessions are now available. As a reminder, new principals who did not participate in one of the live sessions on Test Security and Administration Protocols are expected to view the recording.

  5. Reminder: Registration for the Spring 2019 MCAS Tests
    Schools may now go online for the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) "extended window," during which schools may update student information for computer-based testing. (Schools should have completed the pre-administration SR/PNP already in order to receive an initial shipment of manuals for CBT and PBT, as well as PBT materials, including Student ID Labels.)

    Resources to assist with the SR/PNP are available in the February 6 Student Assessment Update. Questions about the SR/PNP should be directed to the MCAS Service Center (see contact information in the header of this update).

  6. Information on Chromebooks for MCAS Computer-Based Testing
    Schools that will use Chromebooks for MCAS computer-based testing are encouraged to review this memorandum regarding managed devices for testing.

  7. Upcoming Tasks for the 2019 MCAS Alternate Assessment (MCAS-Alt)
    Schools are reminded of the following upcoming tasks and deadlines:

    TaskDeadline/Window to Complete
    Schools receive pre-ordered 2019 MCAS-Alt portfolio submission materials and confirm whether the quantity of materials received is accurate and sufficient.This week
    Complete the "materials received" section of the Principal's Certification of Proper Administration for the MCAS-Alt by following these instructions:
    1. Go online to the MCAS Service Center.
    2. Click "MCAS Alternate Assessment."
    3. Click "Principal's Certification."
    4. Follow the on-screen prompts.
    Schools should complete this task as soon as materials are received, but may do so by March 22.

    If you have any logistical questions, please contact the MCAS Service Center, and please direct policy questions to the Office of Student Assessment Services (see contact information in the header).

  8. Other Important Dates

    CategoryDate(s)ItemResources for More Information
    March retest administrationNow–February 28Schools complete the PCPA "before testing" section, report packing discrepancies, and order additional materialsTesting schedule
    March retest administrationMarch 4–8March retest administrationFall/Winter Principal's Administration Manual Download PDF Document


    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
    Release of November 2018 MCAS retest information
    View HTML Page
    March retest manuals and resources
    View HTML Page
    Swampscott's materials from MCAS training sessions

    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: March 11, 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.