Student Assessment Update September 4, 2013, Special Back-to-School Edition- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update September 4, 2013, Special Back-to-School Edition

Back-to-School Information

Below is an overview of principals' responsibilities for the MCAS and ACCESS for ELLs tests for 2013-2014. This "top five list" may be a refresher to those of you who are returning and a useful planning tool for new principals.

  1. Mark your calendar.

    • Plan for testing dates and administration deadlines. All the tests have prescribed testing windows, and some have prescribed testing dates within the windows. Also note that the 2014 schedule for Educational Proficiency Plan (EPP) tests for students who have not scored at least 240 on the MCAS Mathematics and/or ELA grade 10 tests/retests will be posted at Educational Proficiency Plans.
    • New principals will be required to participate in a test administration training session in early winter 2014 (dates will be posted at Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System in the fall).
    • Note that in late August, ACCESS for ELLs data files and school and district analysis reports will be available in Edwin Analytics in the ACCESS DropBox (
    • See the superintendents' checklist for important dates.

  2. Get to know your students.

    • Identify students with disabilities to prepare their accommodations for testing. See tudent Participation for more information and deadlines (e.g., individualized mathematics reference sheets).
    • Identify which students are English language learners (ELL) so you can prepare to administer MCAS and ACCESS for ELLs tests. The participation of first-year ELL students in MCAS ELA testing is optional, and current and former ELL students may have a bilingual word-to-word dictionary or glossary for MCAS testing. See Student Participation for more information.
    • High schools should identify which students have not yet met Competency Determination requirements. Also make sure that eligible students in grade 11 have the opportunity to participate in MCAS grade 10 tests for scholarship purposes.
    • Review data before the district submits the SIMS report (e.g., IEP status, 504 status, LEP status, grade level) and confirm each student has a SASID. View the SIMS reporting schedule at SIMS 2016-2017 Schedule. Direct questions about SIMS data to the district's SIMS contact (go to Shool and District Profiles, select SIMS Contact from the Function menu, and click Get Results).

  3. Familiarize yourself with resources.

    • Become familiar with the MCAS website, and monitor it for updates throughout the year. Also visit the MCAS Service Center website.
    • Use reports in Edwin Analytics to see how students performed.

      • MCAS Test item analysis reports: Use with the test items.

        • IT 301 - district-level
        • IT 401 - school-level

      • MCAS growth analysis reports: Identify areas of low and high student growth.

        • GR 201, 301, 302 - district-level
        • GR 401, 402 - school-level

    • Review test administration manuals and test administration training session slides from last year. Protocols in general will be the same this school year. This year's manuals will be posted two weeks before each testing window, and printed copies will be included in schools' shipments (see the schedule for ordering and receiving materials: Statewide Testing Schedule).

  4. Make other preparations for a successful test administration.

    • Designate a staff member to be the MCAS test coordinator and ACCESS for ELLs coordinator, and identify other staff members who can help manage test administration logistics, review your school's data, and plan for testing accommodations for students with disabilities.
    • Choose a secure room in which to lock test materials.
    • Plan now to schedule training sessions for all test administrators prior to testing (face-to-face training for MCAS test and online training for ACCESS for ELLs).
    • Institute a tracking system to maintain security of test materials throughout the process, including possibly recording test booklet serial numbers distributed to each test administrator.
    • Update your contact information with the Department to ensure delivery of test materials and to receive updates via fax and email. (Public schools: Submit updated information to your District-Level Directory Administrator. A list of Directory Administrators is posted at Directory Administrators. Non-public schools and collaboratives: Submit an email address [along with your District and School Code] to the Department at

  5. Reach out and call.
    Call for support during test administration or other times:
    781-338-3625 (Student Assessment Services) and 800-737-5103 (MCAS Service Center)

About This Update

The Student Assessment Update provides important information about the state's testing programs. The update is scheduled to be distributed to schools on a bimonthly basis (less frequently in the summer). We welcome your feedback at

Principals, MCAS test coordinators, and ELL directors receive this update via email based on contact information that your school submitted to the Department. To change your email address or to add another staff member, please follow the instructions below:

  • Public schools: Submit the new email address to your District-Level Directory Administrator, who is responsible for submitting contact information to the Department. A list of Directory Administrators is posted at Directory Administrators.
  • Non-public schools and collaboratives: Submit an email address (along with your District and School Code) to the Department at

Last Updated: September 5, 2013

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.