Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Process to Request a Waiver from the MCAS Computer-Based Testing Expectation: Responses Due Friday, October 11

To:Superintendents, Assistant Superintendents, and Directors of Charter Schools, Approved Private Special Education Schools, Educational Collaboratives, Institutional Settings, and Adult/External Diploma Programs
Copy:Principals, MCAS Test Coordinators, and Technology Directors
From:Michol Stapel, Associate Commissioner for Student Assessment
Date:September 17, 2019

As part of the transition to computer-based testing (CBT), schools are expected to administer the following MCAS tests online in 2020: grades 3–-8 ELA and Mathematics, grades 5 and 8 STE, and grade 10 ELA and Mathematics. High schools are also expected to administer the spring 2020 computer-based tests in Biology and Introductory Physics to students in grade 9 (if grade 9 students will participate in these tests)

However, the Department is providing an opportunity for districts/organizations to apply for a waiver from this expectation by Friday, October 11, due to one or more of the following situations for all of the students in a particular school/grade:

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

Instructions for Requesting a Waiver from the CBT Expectation

To submit a waiver request, complete this brief form. Note the following:

  • Requests are submitted at the district/organization level and must be approved by the superintendent/director.
  • Requests may be made at a granular level: by school, grade, and subject (e.g., School A is requesting a waiver for grade 6 because this grade is being housed in a temporary location while the new school is being built).

The Department will notify superintendents/directors of determinations in early to mid-December, and may reach out sooner if there are any questions.

Organizations are encouraged to register for training sessions as they work toward participating in computer-based testing in 2021 — particularly the Introduction to Computer-Based Testing session in November. Registration is available.

Technology Requirements and Resources

Technology directors should use this resource to confirm that devices meet the minimum requirements for testing. Additional resources will be provided throughout the school year via the biweekly Student Assessment Update.

Questions regarding the computer-based expectation and the waiver process may be directed to

Last Updated: September 17, 2019

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