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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: December 10, 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. Passwords for the MCAS Service Center
    New passwords for the MCAS Service Center will be sent via US mail in early January 2020 for tasks related to tests given in the 2020 calendar year. Passwords will be addressed to the attention of the principal, and a roster of passwords for all schools in the district will be sent to superintendents.

    Questions about passwords should be directed to the MCAS Service Center (see contact information in the header of this update).

  2. ACCESS for ELLs Updates

    1. ACCESS Test Coordinator Presentation Now Available Online
      The ACCESS for ELLs Test Coordinator fall 2019 training slides are now available on the MA State Web Page on the WIDA website.

    2. Review Student Data by February 7, 2020
      As a reminder from the previous update, principals/EL test coordinators will be able to review and update their student data between now and February 7, 2020. Student data files are now available in WIDA AMS (Log in > All Applications > Student Management > Manage Students) and in each school's ACCESS Data 2020 DropBox in the DESE Security Portal to assist with these tasks.

      The previous update stated that paper-based tests would be ordered by the Department for first-year ELs; however, the Department has since determined that first-year ELs will take computer-based tests. First-year ELs who are unable to take the computer-based test will be permitted to take the paper-based test and use the handwriting booklet for the writing test, but schools must order paper tests and handwriting booklets during the Additional Test Materials Ordering window.

    3. "Central Office Services-Service Device" (COS-SD) Software for ACCESS for ELLs Testing
      The previous EL Assessment Update included instructions on transitioning from the DRC INSIGHT Testing Site Manager software application to the Central Office Services-Service Device software. Please share the instructions from the previous EL Assessment Update with your school and district educational technology director.

  3. Registration for the MCAS Alternate Assessment: January 6–17, 2020
    Schools administering the MCAS Alternate Assessment (MCAS-Alt) must order portfolio submission materials between January 6 and 17, 2020. Do not register a student taking the MCAS-Alt in the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) for the spring 2020 MCAS tests. Please check with teachers in your school to verify the number of students taking the MCAS-Alt in each grade.

    Beginning January 6, MCAS-Alt materials may be ordered by following these steps:
    • Go online to the MCAS Service Center and select MCAS Alternate Assessment.
    • Click Enrollment Verification.
    • Log in with your school's 2020 password (to be sent in early January).
    • Confirm contact and school information by following the onscreen prompts.
    • Order materials for students in each grade who are taking the MCAS-Alt.
    • Click Submit.
    • Print the confirmation page for your records.

    As a reminder from the previous update, a new component called the Skills Survey has been added to the MCAS-Alt for 2020. The Skills Survey will require teachers to "pre-test" each student on a range of skills in the required subjects.

For High Schools

  1. Additional Adams Scholarship Letters and Rosters
    High schools will be receiving additional letters for students in the class of 2020 who have qualified to receive the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship according to the details below:

    • December 16: Electronic versions of letters and rosters will be posted in the MCAS Service Center.
    • January 8: Printed letters will be delivered to districts.

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

    Schools will need to do the following:

    • Make a copy of each student's letter to file for future reference, or archive an electronic version of it from the MCAS Service Center.
    • (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.

  2. Reminder: Registration for the February Biology Test: Due December 13
    Schools must complete the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) process to order student test materials for the February Biology test by December 13. See the previous update for instructions.

Happy New Year and What's Next from Student Assessment Services

This is the last edition of the Student Assessment Update for 2019. All of us in Student Assessment Services would like to thank you and the educators in your schools for all the work you do on behalf of students and wish you a happy and safe holiday season and new year.

The next edition of the Student Assessment Update (scheduled to be sent on January 7, 2020) will include additional information in preparation for the spring assessments. To help us improve future updates, please send us your input, particularly on the following:

  • The Student Assessment Update Newsletters: Have we been covering the topics you need, and do you have any suggestions for improvement? Are there topics for future updates you'd like to suggest?
  • Resources on the Department's MCAS website and the MCAS Resource Center: Are the resources easy to find, and are there any resources that you suggest that we add?
  • Your school's MCAS resources: Has your school developed resources (e.g., for training test administrators) that you would like to share with others?

Other Important Dates

ACCESS for ELLsDecember 13Returning Test Coordinators Training Session (See the back-to-school EL Assessment Update for details.)
January 2Schools receive ACCESS for ELLs materials
January 2–31Schools order additional ACCESS for ELLs materials
January 6–February 7ACCESS for ELLs administration
February Biology AdministrationDecember 13Deadline to import the SR/PNP for the February Biology test into PearsonAccess Next
March Retest AdministrationJanuary 6–17Deadline to import the SR/PNP for the March retests into PearsonAccess Next
MCAS Alternate Assessment (MCAS-Alt)January 6–17Order MCAS-Alt submission materials
January 7, 8, 13, 14, 15 MCAS-Alt Portfolios-in-Progress Review Sessions:
  • January 7–8 — Taunton
  • January 9 — Springfield
  • January 13 — Danvers
  • January 14 — Marlborough
  • January 15 (Introduction to MCAS-Alt for first-time teachers only) — Marlborough
See this registration information for details.
Reporting: November RetestJanuary 9November retest scores in .CSV files available in DropBox Central in DESE's Security Portal
January 15November retest reports available:
February 7November retest Parent/Guardian Reports delivered to districts

Additional Resources

Resources currently available

Resources to be available mid-January
  • Updated student tutorials
  • Updated practice tests

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: December 10, 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.