Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update Special Pre-Administration Edition: March 20, 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

About This Special Edition Update
This update presents important information and reminders for schools preparing for test administration. We wish you a smooth test administration.

  1. Updated Instructions for Students Using Laptops
    The Test Administrator's Manual for Computer-Based Testing (CBT TAM) provides guidance regarding the management of students' computers during the 3- to 5-minute mid-session break to be taken at the test administrator's discretion. This guidance appears on pages 41, 52, 65, 79, 104, and 111.

    The guidance includes a recommendation to close laptop lids during the break. Note, however, that some laptops are configured so that applications "lose focus" (become disrupted) if the lid is closed. Check with your technology coordinator before testing to determine if your school's devices are configured in this way. If your school's devices would lose focus, students could place a manila folder over the screen instead of closing the lid. If TestNav does lose focus during testing, test administrators will need to resume students' tests. Please share this information with your teams.

  2. Materials Summary Forms for Grades 3–8
    It has come to our attention that the Materials Summary forms for grades 3–8 contain an error. In the "Qty Shipped" column, the number of CBT TAMs shipped is incorrect. Therefore, schools should inventory their shipment of TAMs without using the Materials Summary so they can confirm that they received enough manuals for their test administrators. Questions should be directed to the MCAS Service Center (see contact information in the header of this update).

  3. Tasks to Complete Prior to Administration
    Schools are encouraged to take the following steps prior to administration. Additional steps to complete before testing are described in the Checklist of Tasks on pages 48–49 of the Principal's Administration Manual (PAM) Download PDF Document.

    • (Recommended) Precache operational test content in PearsonAccess Next (PAN) two weeks prior to testing (see step 3 on page 55 of the PAM).

    • Create PAN Sessions and assign students to them (see step 4 on page 55 of the PAM). This is a required step before testing. Following this step, schools may prepare their PAN Sessions up to two days before testing, following the instructions in step 5 on page 60 of the PAM.

  4. Resources and Support
    Online Resources
    Schools are encouraged to use these resources in preparation for test administration:
    Guidance for Technology Problems That May Occur During Testing
    Appendix A of the PAM provides guidance for troubleshooting problems during test administration. The following steps apply to any technology problems that may occur during testing:
    • Do not move a student to a new device.
    • Do not turn off the device.
    • Make note of which testing device the student was using.
    • If there is a situation in which a student is waiting for more than 15 minutes, then schedule the student to complete the session at a later time.

    School principals should contact the MCAS Service Center if there are issues that cannot be resolved in 15 minutes or less. Principals should call the Department at 781-338-3625 after calling the MCAS Service Center if there is a large-scale technology failure that affects one or more classrooms. (It is not necessary to call the Department if there is a loss of connectivity that can be quickly restored with minimal interruption to student testing.)

  5. SR/PNP for the Operational High School STE Tests
    High schools should note they now will see the operational high school STE administration in PAN beginning today, March 19. No action is required at this time. Schools will need to complete the SR/PNP for this administration beginning on April 1. At the end of March, a file will be posted in schools' DropBoxes to assist in completing the SR/PNP. More information will be provided in the next update.

  6. Reminders from Previous Updates
    Please refer to our previous updates for information on topics such as:

Other Important Dates

Grade 10 ELANow–March 22
  • Order additional manuals and PBT materials for accommodations
  • Report packing discrepancies for PBT shipments, if necessary
Now–March 25Precache operational test content for spring 2019 testing
March 26 Prescribed administration date for grade 10 ELA Session 1
March 27Prescribed administration date for grade 10 ELA Session 2
March 28Administration date (if needed) for grade 10 ELA Session 1*
March 29Administration date (if needed) for grade 10 ELA Session 2*
Grades 3–8March 18Operational test content will be available for precaching on or around March 18, but schools should not precache until two weeks prior to the start of their testing window.
Now–March 28
  • Order additional manuals and PBT materials for accommodations
  • Report packing discrepancies for PBT shipments, if necessary
*These administration dates are reserved for testing any remaining students who did not participate in the first set of dates due to technology/device limitations.

Additional Resources

View HTML Page
Next-Generation Grade 10 MCAS Tests: Information for Students and Families
Download Excel Document
Device planner
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 21, 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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