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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: April 23, 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. Applications for Standard-Setting Panels Due May 13
    DESE is pleased to invite educators and other stakeholders to apply to participate in a standard setting meeting for the next-generation MCAS tests. The meeting will take place August 5–7, 2019.

    The purpose of the standard setting is to identify and recommend achievement level cut scores for the next-generation MCAS tests. A cut score defines the minimum performance required for a particular level of achievement. The standard setting will be conducted by four panels of Massachusetts educators and other stakeholders, working under the direction of trained facilitators, in the following grades and subject areas:

    • Grade 10 English Language Arts (ELA)
    • Grade 10 Mathematics
    • Grade 5 Science and Technology/Engineering (STE)
    • Grade 8 STE

    We are looking for candidates with content expertise, familiarity with the Massachusetts curriculum frameworks, and teaching experience in the grade and content area indicated on the application. We strongly encourage educators with diverse backgrounds and who teach groups of diverse students to apply.

    The deadline to apply is Monday, May 13, 2019. Principals are encouraged to share the information with educators at their schools. This is an excellent professional development opportunity for educators to help define the next-generation MCAS, and we hope that you will share this invitation widely with your teachers and school communities.

  2. 2019 VOCAL School Climate Survey
    The Views of Climate and Learning (VOCAL) is an annual survey sponsored by the Department. The 2019 VOCAL survey will be administered to students in grades 4, 5, 8, and 10 during the spring 2019 MCAS test administration.

    More information about the VOCAL survey is available, and instructions on administering the survey appears in the Test Administrator's Manual for Computer-Based Testing Download PDF Document beginning on page 84. Note that in the MCAS manuals, the VOCAL survey is referred to as the "student questionnaire."

  3. Reminder from the Previous Update: Undo Test Submissions
    District test coordinators have permission to undo test submissions using PearsonAccess Next. This step should be taken when a student who has not yet finished a test session accidently clicks "submit." Refer to this resource for the steps involved.

For Grades 3–8

  1. End of ELA Testing Window and End-of-Administration Tasks
    As you know, the ELA testing window ends earlier than the window for Mathematics/STE. The last day of the ELA window is May 3, and schools will need to complete all make-up testing, including make-up testing for students with extraordinary circumstances (i.e., students not able to participate in regularly scheduled or make-up sessions) by May 6. (No special permission is needed to test on May 6.)

    At the end of the ELA testing window, schools will need to update student information in PearsonAccess Next (PAN) according to the instructions in Appendix D of the Principal's Administration Manual Download PDF Document (PAM). Schools should also complete the following steps:

    Questions about these steps may be directed to the MCAS Service Center at 800-737-5103.

For High Schools

  1. Student Registration for the High School Biology and Introductory Physics Field Tests Due May 3
    As you know, students in grade 9 taking the operational Biology and Introductory Physics tests must also participate in the computer-based field tests in these subjects, and participation of grade 10 students is optional/at the principal's discretion. The SR/PNP file must be imported into the "MCAS Biology and Introductory Field Tests" administration by May 3. Refer to the Guide to the SR/PNP Process for guidance on the process, and pages 17–18 of the PAM Download PDF Document for participation guidelines, including a list of accommodations not offered for the field tests.

    To assist schools in completing the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP), the Department posted a .CSV file in DropBox Central, in the "MCAS 2019 Data folder" that includes grade 9 students registered in PAN for a June Biology or Introductory Physics test. Records have been removed for students not expected to participate (see page 18 of the PAM for details).

    Students may be added to PAN Sessions in the initial SR/PNP or prior to testing, following step 4 on page 55 of the PAM.

    Schools that only administer the February Biology test or do not administer the operational Biology and Introductory Physics tests to students in grade 9 should not complete the SR/PNP, as they will not administer the field tests.

  2. New Online Form to Request Permission to Test an Adult with Accommodations
    The Request for Permission to Test an Adult with Accommodations for the Operational High School STE Tests form is now available online for use during the 2019 spring operational high school STE test administration. (In the future, the form will also be available for the retest administrations.) When completing the form, follow the instructions below:

    • Click "Continue" on the first screen to next access the form. Provide all the information requested on the form, and click "Add attachments" near the bottom-right corner to attach documentation of the disability (see Appendix C of the PAM Download PDF Document for the required documentation).
    • Complete one form per adult test-taker. To submit multiple requests, click "Portal Guest, MCAS (DOE)" in the upper-right corner, and select "Logout." Then, return to the request form, where you will submit a new form for each test-taker.
    • Note that you will be automatically logged out of the online form after 30 minutes of inactivity. After you submit the request, you will receive a confirmation email with your ticket number and a copy of the information you submitted through the online form. You may contact the Office of Student Assessment Services with questions.

  3. Reminders from the Previous Update:

    1. Reminder: Register for the Reporting Webinar on Grade 10 ELA Topics (Early Reporting Round 1: Machine-Scored Items)
      Department staff will hold a reporting webinar on April 29 from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. on grade 10 ELA topics (early reporting round 1: machine-scored items). Registration is available throughout this week.

    2. MCAS/EPP Test Materials Now Available
      Materials to administer the MCAS/EPP Mathematics test are now available in the Department's Security Portal. The window for administering the MCAS/EPP Mathematics test ends on May 3.

      As a reminder, the MCAS/EPP Mathematics test is an option for students to successfully complete the mathematics assessment portion of their Education Proficiency Plan (EPP) to meet their Competency Determination graduation requirement. Questions about the EPP may be directed to or 781-338-3010.

Other Important Dates

Grades 3–8Now–May 3ELA test sessions (Note: ELA testing ends earlier than Math/STE.)
Now–May 24Mathematics test sessions
Now–May 24STE test sessions (grades 5 and 8)
May 6
  • Deadline for updating SR/PNP information for ELA, if necessary
  • Deadline to mark students' tests complete for ELA , if necessary
May 7For PBT accommodations: prescheduled UPS pickup (and deadline)
March Retest ResultsApril 26
April 30
May 3
  • .CSV data files posted to DropBoxes
  • Composition images available on the MCAS Service Center
  • Interactive reports available in Edwin Analytics
MCAS/EPP Mathematics Test Now–May 3
  • Download test materials from the Department's Security Portal
  • MCAS/EPP Mathematics test sessions
May 6–15Score students' answer sheets
Grade 10 MathematicsMay 7Receive manuals and PBT materials for accommodations
May 7–20Precache operational test content for spring 2019 testing
May 7–17
  • Order additional manuals and PBT materials for accommodations, if necessary
  • Report packing discrepancies for PBT shipments, if necessary

Additional Resources

Download Word Document
Early reporting schedule
Download Word Document
Frequently Asked Questions: Spring 2019 MCAS
Guidance for technology problems that may occur during testing (See Appendix A of the Principal's Administration Manual Download PDF Document)
Guidance on tasks in PearsonAccess Next
View External Link
Guidance on enrollment transfer requests in PearsonAccess Next
View External Link
Resolving Incorrect Accommodations During Testing module
View External Link
Guidance on Resume and Resume Upload
View External Link
Guidance on removing students from a PAN Session
View External Link
Guidance on marking tests "complete" in PAN

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: April 23, 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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