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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: June 19, 2019, Special End-of-School-Year Edition

Contact Information

for logistical support, including tech support for PearsonAccess Next and TestNav

for policy questions, including student participation

Latest Updates from Student Assessment Services

For All Schools

  1. Thank You from the Office of Student Assessment Services
    The staff in Student Assessment Services would like to thank principals, test coordinators, test administrators, technology coordinators, and other staff for your cooperation and assistance in administering MCAS tests in ELA, mathematics, and STE, and for completing the three-year transition toward having all schools participate in computer-based testing. We hope that you enjoy your summer!

  2. Updates on Spring 2019 MCAS Reporting

    1. MCAS Discrepancy Reporting Window: July 24–August 6
      The 2019 MCAS discrepancy reporting window is scheduled for July 24–August 6. On July 24, the Department will post a file of preliminary results for all grades and subjects in DropBox Central in the Department's Security Portal; interactive reports will be available in Edwin Analytics approximately one week later. Due to standard setting for the next-generation MCAS tests, scaled scores, achievement levels, and student growth data are scheduled to be available to superintendents, principals, and district test coordinators in late August.

      Schools are asked to plan now for staff to be available during the July 24–August 6 time period to review preliminary results.

      As in previous years, discrepancies in student SASIDs, test status, and demographic information can be reported on the MCAS Service Center website. Prior to the opening of the window, instructions on how to identify and report discrepancies will be posted on the MCAS Service Center website and in DropBox Central. It is important that principals/designees complete this process, since discrepancies reported after August 6 will not be included in MCAS Parent/Guardian Reports or in the public release of official school and district MCAS and accountability results.

    2. Updated Grade 10 ELA Early Release Files Now Available
      Yesterday, June 18, the Department provided updated early release files for grade 10 ELA. The updated files include a small number of essay scores that were revised. If your organization downloaded a copy of the original grade 10 ELA files prior to June 12 (the date on which the files were removed from PearsonAccess Next), you may observe an increase of one or two points in some student essay scores when the revised files become available. The updated files will be posted to PearsonAccess Next, in Published Reports.

    3. 2019 MCAS Early Release Schedule
      The table below shows the tentative dates for upcoming postings of student results. All files will be posted to PearsonAccess Next, in Published Reports; superintendents, principals, and school and district test coordinators will have access to the files.

      DateGrade(s)/SubjectAvailable Data
      June 19Grade 10 MathematicsMachine-scored items from computer-based tests
      July 1Grades 3–8 (all subjects)Hand- and machine-scored items from computer-based and paper-based tests
      July 8Grade 10 MathematicsHand- and machine-scored items from computer-based and paper-based tests

  3. Release of Spring 2019 MCAS Test Questions
    Released test questions from the spring 2019 MCAS administration are being posted in the following resources as the items become available:

    • The MCAS Resource Center provides access to ePATs (electronic practice assessment tools) that contain released items from the next-generation computer-based tests.
    • The MCAS Digital Item Library is a searchable database of all released items from the computer-based tests, 2017 to the present.
    • Released item documents display items from the next-generation paper-based tests and the legacy tests in PDF format.

    The ePATs for most 2019 computer-based tests are already available on the MCAS Resource Center. Additional released-item materials will be posted over the coming weeks. The Department has also posted an Overview of Spring 2019 MCAS Item Releases, which shows the percentage of operational items that are being released for each test or grade range.

    Educators can use released test questions as a tool for student test practice and to help familiarize students with MCAS test formats and item types. Released questions also provide examples of how specific standards are assessed and can be used along with item-level student results to evaluate the need for curriculum changes.

  4. ACCESS for ELLs Testing Dates for 2020
    Principals and testing coordinators should note that the ACCESS for ELLs testing window will be January 6–February 7, 2020. Administration deadlines (e.g., delivery dates for materials) will be announced early in the next school year.

  5. Planning for MCAS Activities This Summer and Next Year
    Schools are encouraged to plan for MCAS activities that occur throughout the summer, including the reporting of results. The superintendents' checklist for 2019-2020 will be posted soon; the checklist provides a list of tasks that school districts must complete throughout the year, and is an important planning tool for superintendents and other school and district staff. For reference, the link will be 2018-19 Superintendents' Checklist.

    MCAS test coordinators who are completing their role as coordinator at the end of this school year are encouraged to leave a file for the new test coordinator that includes the following information:

    • instructions on how to contact the district-level Directory Administrator, who can assign the test coordinator role in DESE's Directory Administration application (so that the individual will automatically receive MCAS emails) and can provide access to Edwin and the Security Portal
    • the school password for the MCAS Service Center website
    • a link to the MCAS Resource Center, where training materials and practice tests, among other materials, are posted

  6. Reminder about MCAS Computer-Based Testing Expectation for 2020
    All schools/districts are expected to administer MCAS tests online in spring 2020 as described in next year's MCAS testing schedule. In the fall, superintendents may apply for a waiver only if one of the following situations exists in their district:

    • Circumstances at the school(s) (e.g., technology constraints, construction, or physical plant issues) will preclude computer-based testing in spring 2020.
    • All of the students at the school(s) either take paper-based tests as an accommodation or take the MCAS-Alt, in accordance with students' IEPs or 504 plans.

  7. Reminders from the Previous Update

    1. MCAS Surveys on the Testing Experience Due June 21
      The Department appreciates all the input received thus far on the surveys on the testing experience. Survey responses will be reviewed over the summer so that Department staff can make program improvements for the next school year.

      As a reminder, the school survey is available online. Please share this link with your staff so that they may have the opportunity to share their input.

      In addition, high school principals received an email on June 5 with links to student surveys (one link for students who took the grade 10 ELA test, and one for students who took the grade 10 Mathematics test). Schools that need this email message re-sent should contact the MCAS Service Center (see contact information in the header of this update).

      The surveys will close on Friday, June 21.

    2. MCAS-Alt Preliminary Results Available; Score Appeals Due June 21
      Portfolio Feedback Forms (PFFs) containing preliminary MCAS-Alt results are now available in schools' DropBoxes in the DESE Security Portal.

      Principals/designees may submit an MCAS-Alt score appeal if there is evidence that a portfolio was scored incorrectly. Instructions on submitting an appeal were provided in the previous update.

    3. Obligation to Send ACCESS for ELLs Reports to Parents/Guardians
      Schools must send the ACCESS for ELLs Individual Score Report to each student's parents/guardians, along with an appropriate translated report. Print copies of translated score reports containing actual student data can be generated in 47 languages in WIDA AMS, under Student Score Results > On Demand.

      Questions may be directed to or to the Office of Student Assessment Services at 781-338-3625.

For High Schools

  1. Plans for the MCAS ELA and Mathematics Retests
    High schools are encouraged to begin planning coursework and MCAS test administrations for students who do not meet the Competency Determination on the spring 2019 MCAS Grade 10 tests in ELA and Mathematics.

    In November 2019 and March 2020, both the ELA and Mathematics retests will be legacy, paper-based tests. The standards assessed on the retests are as follows (note, these tests are based on standards from previous curriculum frameworks):

    Plans for retests for 2020-2021 will be announced at a later time.

  2. Important Information about High School STE Tests
    View this recently posted memorandum providing clarification about eligibility for the high school STE tests in 2019-2020.

Additional Resources

Download Word Document
2019 MCAS Early Reporting Schedule (updated 6/6/19)
2019 Assessment & Accountability Reporting Schedule (updated 5/20/19)
View External Link
Recording of the MCAS grade 10 ELA early release webinar (also relevant for grades 3–8) from April 29
View HTML Page
2019-2020 MCAS testing schedule
View External Link
TestNav system requirements for 2019-2020
View HTML Page
Acquiring Technology for Next-Generation Learning, Teaching, and Assessment

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: June 19, 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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