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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: October 15, 2019

Contact Information

Phone: 800-737-5103
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. Reporting Resources for Parents/Guardians
    The Department has posted the Parent/Guardian Report template in English and in the ten languages most frequently spoken by the families of students in Massachusetts public schools:

    • Arabic
    • Chinese (Traditional)
    • Crioulo
    • French
    • Haitian Creole

    • Khmer
    • Portuguese
    • Russian
    • Spanish
    • Vietnamese

    This year, to support you and your school communities, we will be providing translations in six additional languages (Albanian, Hindi, Korean, Swahili, Telugu, and Twi). These translations will be posted as they become available. Schools may contact to request the files.

    The Department will also be providing translations in all 16 languages of two other important reporting resources:
    • Next-Generation Grade 10 MCAS Tests in English Language Arts and Mathematics: Information for Students and Families
    • Parent/Guardian Letters for the class of 2021 (this year's 11th graders) and for the class of 2023 (this year's 9th graders)

    Translations will be posted as they become available. If your school educates children whose families do not speak one of these languages, we suggest using a web-based translator.

    In addition, we encourage sharing the spring 2019 MCAS sample student work with interested parents. Parents may also be interested in viewing the recently updated Parent/Guardian Information page. PowerPoints describing/annotating the Parent/Guardian Reports (one for grades 3–8 and one for grade 10) will be posted soon.

  2. MCAS BYOD Participation: Notify DESE by Friday, December 6
    Schools that have a "bring your own device" (BYOD) policy and that would like to follow this practice for MCAS testing in spring 2020 will need to email by Friday, December 6, for instructions on preparing devices. A BYOD policy allows students to bring their own devices to school for use during regular instruction.

  3. Reminder: PDFs of MCAS Parent/Guardian Reports Available
    MCAS Parent/Guardian Reports are available in an electronic format for students in grades 3–8 and 10. If your district has the appropriate software systems to extract and securely distribute PDF files, we encourage sharing these records with families. Instructions on accessing the electronic reports are provided in the previous update.

For High Schools

  1. November Retest Manuals Now Available
    Each year, the Department attempts to provide manuals to schools as early as possible to assist in training and implementation. We are pleased to provide PDFs of the Principal's Administration Manual and the Test Administrator's Manual for the November retests (as well as other winter administrations). Paper copies will be delivered to schools by Wednesday, October 30. The manuals as well as other administration resources will be available soon at MCAS Retest Administration Resources web page.

    Special guidelines for participation in the November ELA retest were sent to schools by email. Questions about participation guidelines, or other questions about policies or security requirements, may be directed to the Department (see the contact information in the header of this update). Contact the MCAS Service Center with questions about logistics.

  2. Instructions for Schools That Did Not Register for the November Retests
    High school principals were expected to complete the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) for the November retest administration by Thursday, October 10, 2019. A response was requested from each high school regardless of whether or not students at the school will participate.

    Schools that did not complete the registration process were contacted by the MCAS Service Center, in an effort to provide guidance and support in completing the SR/PNP. Schools that did not complete the SR/PNP by the deadline will not be able to receive Student ID Labels for the November retest. These schools will need to fill in all the information requested on answer booklet covers.

    Even though your school did not complete the registration process by the deadline, principals will still need to complete the SR/PNP. Also, in order to receive materials, schools must place an order for additional materials by going online to the MCAS Service Center website between October 30 and November 4. Questions can be directed to the MCAS Service Center.

  3. Nonscorable Compositions for the ELA Retest
    In preparation for the upcoming November ELA retest, we would like to remind high schools that the Composition requires students to respond to a writing prompt based on a work of literature they have read.

    A large percentage of students participating in previous retest administrations did not address the prompt and therefore earned 0 out of 20 points for the Composition portion. Most of the nonscorable retest compositions summarized a book but did not address the topic of the writing prompt.

    We encourage you and your English teams to remind students of the importance of writing a composition that uses a work of literature to address the retest writing prompt. Educators may wish to view previously administered writing prompts, scoring guides, and sample student work at each legacy composition score point.

  4. John and Abigail Adams Scholarship Letters for Distribution
    High schools are responsible for distributing letters to students in the class of 2020 who have qualified to receive the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship.

    The Department is providing the letters to each school according to the schedule below:
    • October 15: PDFs of the letters were posted in the MCAS Service Center.
    • October 30: Printed letters will be delivered to districts.

    The letter is important because students must provide a copy of it to their college/university each year, along with their completed FAFSA application. Without this letter, the college/university will not apply the tuition credit.

    Schools will need to do the following:
    • Make copies of the letters for students' files for future reference.
    • (Recommended) Designate an individual in the school to be the point of contact for the letters.
    • Inform students of the name of the person at the school whom they can contact if they have any questions about the scholarship or the letter.

Other Important Dates

MCAS Training SessionsNovember 4Overview of the Next-Generation MCAS High School Biology and Introductory Physics Tests
November 20Introduction to MCAS Computer-Based Testing for New Staff
Test Coordinator Training Sessions
Returning Test Coordinators:
  • November 19
  • November 20
  • December 13

New Test Coordinators:
  • December 5
See the back-to-school EL Assessment Update for details.

Additional Resources

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: October 15, 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.