Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Questions and Answers about the EPP

Last updated 8/27/2021


General EPP Questions

  • Is an Educational Proficiency Plan (EPP) required for every student who does not meet the Competency Determination (CD) standard?

    An EPP is required for Massachusetts public high school students in the class of 2023 and beyond who have not yet earned the next-generation MCAS equivalent of a score of Proficient or higher on the grade 10 MCAS ELA and or Mathematics test, including students who were absent in grade 10. For ELA, the minimum equivalent score is 472, and for Mathematics, the minimum equivalent score is 486.

    Note that Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) is not part of the EPP requirement.

  • Can EPP coursework and assessments alone be used to satisfy the CD requirements?

    No. Students must meet the graduation requirements listed on the Department's website.

  • Is it possible for students to "fail" their EPP?

    Yes. Students can "fail" by not successfully completing required courses in the relevant content area(s) in grades 11 and 12 or by not participating in the annual assessment identified in their EPP. Students who do not complete their EPP are considered not to have met the Competency Determination requirements.

  • What is the definition of "successful completion" of a course?

    "Successful completion" of a course means, at minimum, that the student has earned academic credit for the course under the school district's standards for awarding academic credit. The district may establish additional criteria for successful completion of a course that are required by a student's EPP.

  • How long must courses be to meet the coursework requirements of the EPP?

    Students scoring below the Proficient level (or next-generation MCAS equivalent) in ELA and/or Mathematics are required to take coursework in the area(s) in which their score(s) were insufficient to meet the CD requirement. These courses should be one year long or the equivalent and based on high school-level standards in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Students can earn credit for this coursework based on any generally available modality of course-taking in the district, including online and credit-recovery coursework that awards a year-long credit equivalent.

  • Should students with an EPP take remedial courses?

    No. The Department encourages students with EPPs to take challenging courses that prepare them for college and a career. Most of these courses will be the "usual" coursework taken by students in grades 11 and 12. EPPs must include courses designed not only to move students toward proficiency on the grade 10 standard but on the grades 11 and 12 standards and beyond as well. Some students who do not meet the CD standard may need additional support; however, for most students, the EPP should not prescribe remedial courses.

  • What is the relationship between an Individual Learning Plan (ILP)/MyCAP and an EPP?

    Because the ILP/MyCAP is developed by the student with a school mentor and includes course-taking information as well as documentation of course grades and assessment results, the ILP/MyCAP may be used as an EPP.

  • Are students required to fulfill the EPP requirements if they were originally members of the class of 2003–2009, have met all local graduation requirements, and are no longer in school, but have not yet earned a Competency Determination?

    No. Students are not required to fulfill the EPP requirements if they were originally members of the class of 2009 or an earlier and met all local graduation requirements prior to December 31, 2009, but have not yet earned a CD.

  • Are students required to fulfill the EPP requirements if they are a member of the class of 2021 or 2022?

    No. To earn a CD, students must also meet the graduation requirements for STE listed on the Department's website.

EPP Coordination

  • Who designs, implements, and coordinates EPPs at the school?

    The principal is responsible for assigning staff to design, implement, and coordinate EPPs.

  • What is the recommended timeline for developing or updating a student's EPP?

    EPPs should be developed or updated prior to the beginning of the fall semester of a student's junior/senior year in order for the student to take the relevant coursework. For high schools with 4x4 block schedules, EPPs should be developed or updated no later than the beginning of the second semester of a student's junior/senior year.

  • How often should a student's EPP be reviewed?

    A student's EPP should be reviewed at least annually and can be modified or updated as needed.

  • Who determines if a student has successfully completed an EPP?

    The high school principal or designee is responsible for determining whether a student has successfully fulfilled all the requirements of an EPP.

  • What is the role of the student and the student's parents/guardians in the development of an EPP?

    Students and parents/guardians are encouraged to be active participants in the development of the EPP.

  • What evidence should be maintained to verify that a student's EPP has been successfully completed?

    The evidence should include documentation of the course(s) required by the student's EPP as well as of the assessment(s) the student took and the date(s) of administration. Students who have completed an EPP should be reported in SIMS as a graduate with a Competency Determination (CD).

  • Is the EPP part of a student's temporary or permanent record?

    The EPP is part of the temporary record, in accordance with 603 CMR 23.06(3).

  • How long should a student's EPP remain on file?

    The EPP should not be kept longer than seven years after the student withdraws, graduates, or transfers to another school district. School districts should retain the EPP for the full seven-year period and offer the student a copy upon transfer, graduation, or withdrawal.

  • Should a student's EPP be included as part of the record when the student transfers from one high school to another?

    Yes, the EPP should be part of the student's transfer record.

Assessment Component of the EPP

  • What are the EPP assessment options?

    School districts may use one or more of the following four assessment options to determine whether a student is making progress toward or meets the proficiency standard:

    • Accuplacer
    • locally developed end-of-course assessment in ELA and/or mathematics
    • MCAS/EPP Mathematics test
    • March MCAS ELA retest (not the November administration)

    The MCAS/EPP Mathematics Test and the March MCAS ELA retest are the only instruments available to determine whether a student on an EPP has met the proficiency standard for the CD; other assessments will assess whether students are making progress toward proficiency while continuing to successfully complete the coursework detailed in their EPP in grades 11 and 12. Note that taking the annual assessment is required, but scoring at a particular level is not.

  • If the locally developed end-of-course assessment is selected as the option to determine whether a student is making progress toward the proficiency standard, what assessment approaches are permitted?

    School districts have the option of selecting comprehensive end-of-course exams or a combination of quarterly, mid-term, and final exams that cover the year-long course content. Other assessment options include junior/senior projects or a portfolio. The end-of-course assessment must include an entire year of student work and be based upon the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework standards in the assessed subject area.

  • If a student does not meet the 240 threshold (or next-generation MCAS equivalent) on the MCAS ELA test and is placed on an EPP, can that student still participate in an MCAS retest?

    Students in grades 11 and 12 who have not yet earned a scaled score of 240 (or the next-generation MCAS equivalent) on the MCAS ELA test and are attempting to meet the CD requirement in ELA may take the MCAS March ELA retest. For mathematics, only students who scored below 220 (or below a scaled score of 469, the next-generation MCAS equivalent), will be able to participate in the MCAS Mathematics retests.

  • Who is not eligible to participate in the MCAS/EPP Mathematics Test?

    A student who has not reached the Needs Improvement level (not yet scored at least 220 or the next-generation MCAS equivalent of a scaled scored of 469) on the Mathematics MCAS grade 10 test or subsequent retests is not eligible to participate in the MCAS/EPP Mathematics Test.

  • What is the content and structure of the MCAS/EPP Mathematics Test?

    The MCAS/EPP Mathematics Test is aligned to the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework content standards and mirrors the MCAS test blueprints except for the distribution of item types: the MCAS/EPP Mathematics test includes only multiple-choice questions (no short-answer or constructed-response questions appear on the test). The test consists of two sections of 30 questions, and there is one non-calculator session followed by a session during which students are permitted to use a calculator.

EPPs for Students with Disabilities

  • What is the relationship between the Individualized Education Program (IEP) and an EPP for a student with disabilities who needs one?

    The IEP outlines how a student's disability affects their learning and the individualized services and supports that are must be provided. In most cases, it may be inappropriate for the IEP to detail course selection since the services and supports in the IEP are mandated under special education law. The Department suggests that a review of the IEP prior to developing the EPP may prove helpful in evaluating the student's strengths and weaknesses in the learning environment. While completing the EPP, it may be appropriate to simply reference the IEP in the section of the EPP that seeks information on a student's strengths and weaknesses in the area that the EPP is addressing. The Transition Planning Form may also be an effective resource to use in writing the EPPs of many students with disabilities.

  • Do EPP requirements apply to a student who attends an approved Massachusetts in-state day or residential private special education school program and has not scored at the Proficient level (or next-generation equivalent) on the spring grade 10 MCAS ELA and Mathematics tests?

    Yes. A student who attends an approved Massachusetts in-state day or residential private special education school program and has not met the score requirements listed above needs to have an EPP. The student's EPP should also include interventions that will assist the student in preparing for the MCAS retests (if the student will participate in them for the assessment portion of the EPP).

  • Who is responsible for developing the EPP for a student in an approved Massachusetts in-state day or residential private special education school program?

    The public school district that placed the student is responsible for writing the EPP in consultation with the approved Massachusetts in-state day or residential private special education school.

  • Who determines whether a student in an approved Massachusetts in-state day or residential private special education program has satisfied their EPP?

    The principal or designee of the school that will issue the diploma determines whether a student has satisfied their EPP. The executive director of an approved Massachusetts in-state day or residential private special education program may serve as the designee of the principal of a sending school.

  • Is a student with disabilities who continues in school after grade 12 and is projected to remain enrolled until age 22 required to be on an EPP?

    No. These students are not required to be on an EPP.

EPPs for Students in Public Institutional Settings

  • Do students who are in a public institutional setting (such as DYS care or custody or temporary hospitalization) need an EPP if they have not met the score requirements listed above for the grade 10 ELA and Mathematics MCAS tests or retests?

    Yes. These students need to have an EPP. A student who has not scored in the Needs Improvement level needs an EPP that includes interventions to assist the student in preparing for the MCAS retests (if the student will participate in them for the assessment portion of the EPP).

  • Who is responsible for developing the EPP for a student in a public institutional setting?

    The public school district that would award the student's high school diploma is responsible for writing the EPP in consultation with the entity providing the educational services for the student.

  • Who determines whether a student in a public institutional setting has completed their EPP?

    The principal or designee of the school that will issue the diploma determines whether a student has satisfied their EPP. This should be done in consultation with the entity providing the educational services for the student, as appropriate.

EPPs for Transfer Students and Other Special Situations

  • Does an EPP have to be developed for students who transfer into a Massachusetts public school from a private school or from outside Massachusetts?

    Schools should take special care in ensuring that students transferring into a Massachusetts public school in their junior year or beyond are enrolled in coursework that will allow them to complete their EPP requirements in the event that they do not score Proficient (or the next-generation equivalent) on the MCAS tests.

    A junior who transfers into a Massachusetts public school may participate in MCAS tests/retests according to these participation guidelines. An EPP must be developed for students who do not meet the MCAS proficiency score requirements for the remainder of their junior year and senior year or until the student demonstrates proficiency (and therefore meets the CD requirements).

  • Does a student who drops out of high school and enters an Adult Diploma Program or Alternative Education Program require an EPP?

    Yes. Unless a student has scored at least 240 (or the next-generation MCAS equivalent) on the MCAS ELA and Mathematics tests, that student will require an EPP. Any student who is seeking a Massachusetts public high school diploma and enters an Adult Diploma Program or Alternative Education Program will require an EPP until they show proficiency.

Last Updated: August 27, 2021

 
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