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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Ensuring a Successful Spring 2011 MCAS Test Administration

To:Superintendents, Principals, and Directors of Charter Schools, Approved Private Special Education Schools, Education Collaboratives, and Special Education in Institutional Settings
From:Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D.
Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education
Date:April 29, 2011

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I am writing to enlist your leadership and support in reminding your staff of their responsibilities for adhering to all MCAS security requirements and test administration protocols during the spring testing window. Over the years, and particularly in the last few years, there have been some unfortunate instances of MCAS testing irregularities, ranging from simple failure to follow instructions in the manuals to outright cheating. These irregularities are events that we investigate thoroughly.

There are two ways to guard against testing irregularities in schools: First, principals and test administrators must take the time to read and understand their respective manuals. If anything seems unclear, specialists in the Department's Student Assessment unit are available before, during, and after testing each day to answer questions about proper procedures. Second, superintendents, other district leaders, and principals can set clear expectations that staff follow designated protocols for administering MCAS tests.

Compromised test administrations, whether due to cheating or failure to follow administration protocols, will result in the invalidation of student scores and may result in the invalidation of school scores. When scores are invalidated, parents, students, educators, and the community are deprived of important information about student achievement of state performance standards as well as student growth from year to year.

Massachusetts has an enviable reputation for high quality standards, excellent assessments based on those standards, and valid results. I am counting on you to uphold this fine tradition in your districts and schools.

Thank you for your cooperation.



Last Updated: May 6, 2011
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