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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: March 11, 2013

Ordering Materials for the June High School STE Test Administration

High school principals are being faxed a memorandum today with instructions on ordering test materials for the June MCAS Science and Technology/Engineering administration. Materials are to be ordered between March 11 and 15 online at If you have any questions, please contact the MCAS Service Center at 800-737-5103.

Reminder - MCAS Test Security Requirements and Test Administration Protocols

The spring 2013 MCAS English Language Arts test administration begins on Monday, March 18, 2013. As you know, Commissioner Chester has requested that, prior to the start of the MCAS tests administration, superintendents conduct a formal review with their principals to discuss plans for maintaining test security. This important review will serve to assure superintendents are comfortable with the procedures at your school. Your superintendent may choose to use the sample form posted at to document your school's preparations.

Also please remember that, to partner with you in ensuring that security requirements are being followed, Department staff and staff hired by the Department will visit a small sample of schools statewide during testing. Principals should be prepared to meet these individuals upon their arrival at the school and be available to answer questions. Visitors will bring a Department ID or a letter written on Department letterhead stating the purpose of their visit.

Please contact the Student Assessment Services Unit at 781-338-3625 with any questions. Thank you for your continued leadership and support.

Update on Development of PARCC Tests

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a 22-state consortium, of which Massachusetts is a member, is developing next generation assessments in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. PARCC is developing these new, Common Core-aligned, computer-based assessments in grades 3-11 for the 2014-15 school year. Many of the new features under development are directly responsive to the concerns that current state assessments were not designed to measure the full range of skills and competencies embodied in the Common Core State Standards, and the high school tests provide no measure of a student's readiness for college and career.

Among the enhancements of the new assessments, PARCC will add technology-enhanced items, assess college and career-ready standards, and incorporate performance-based tasks such as a research simulation to assess a broader range of the skills and competencies in our standards that we value. To do so, PARCC will require additional testing time, and will be administered in two windows - the first, for performance-based assessments roughly three-quarters of the way through the school year; the second, for more traditional, end-of-year assessments after roughly 90 percent of the school year.

PARCC's March 2013 guidance document contains important information on test design, the testing window, and approximate testing time, and "rule of thumb" guidance on the number of computer devices needed to administer the PARCC assessments. The guidance is located at An Excel-based tool is also available for districts and schools to gauge their readiness to administer computer-based tests in 2014-15. This assessment capacity planning tool will help district leaders in making decisions about whether they need to make additional technology investments or adjustments to school technology configurations to better prepare for PARCC. That tool, which requires the entry of a limited number of data points, is located online at For additional support, district and school leaders may refer to a user guide, a PDF version of the tool, a small elementary school-based example, and an FAQ. If you have additional questions, please contact

Important Upcoming Dates

  • March 11-15: Ordering window for high school STE Materials
  • March 18-April 5: MCAS English Language Arts Test Administration
    • March 19: ELA Composition
    • March 28: ELA Composition Make-Up
  • March 22: MCAS February Biology results available electronically
  • Mid-April: MCAS March retest results available electronically
  • April 1: Deadline for UPS pickup of MCAS-Alt portfolios

About this Update

The Student Assessment Services Update provides important information about the state's testing programs. Please email your feedback to

Principals, heads of school, MCAS test coordinators, and ELL directors received this email based on contact information that was submitted to the Department. To change your email address, please follow the instructions below:

  • Public schools: Submit updates to your District-Level Directory Administrator, who is responsible for submitting updates to the Department. A listing of Directory Administrators is posted at
  • Non-public schools and collaboratives: Submit updates (along with your District & School Code) to the Department via email at

Last Updated: March 15, 2013
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