Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Guidelines for Participation in MCAS of Students Diagnosed with Concussions

Massachusetts Department of Public Health regulation 105 CMR 201.010 requires that schools place a student diagnosed with a concussion on a post-concussion graduated reentry plan for academic and extra-curricular activities. The graduated reentry plan must also document how the student will participate in MCAS testing.

If it is determined that a student is well enough, the student may participate in the standard MCAS test using test accommodations or the MCAS Alternate Assessment (MCAS-Alt) as described below. Students may be excused from testing only if they meet the conditions described below.

For more information about the participation of students with disabilities in MCAS, refer to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's website at MCAS's Participation Requirements for Students page.

MCAS Test Accommodations

A student diagnosed with a concussion is entitled to receive appropriate and necessary test accommodations for MCAS tests, and an IEP or 504 plan must be developed for this purpose.

The IEP or 504 team must determine how the student will participate in MCAS in each subject, including whether the student will take the standard MCAS test, and if so, which accommodations will be provided. In the IEP or 504 plan, accommodations must be listed separately for both routine instruction and MCAS testing.

Instructional accommodations and modifications must be based on an individual student's academic performance and stage of recovery and must be described either in the graduated reentry plan, current IEP, or 504 plan. The 504 plan may be used to address section 201.010 (2) (b) of the graduated reentry plan (i.e., "instructions for the student's graduated return to extracurricular athletic activities and classroom studies, as appropriate, including accommodations and modifications as needed"). If appropriate, a reference to the graduated reentry plan should be included in the student's IEP in the section titled "Additional Information."


  • An accommodation is intended to provide a student with a support that allows the student to achieve at the same level as other students.

  • A modification is a change in the expectations for a student's performance, such as taking a reduced workload or specially adapted classroom tests.

  • It may be necessary to "try out" various approaches for adapting instruction and then revise the information in the academic portion of the graduated reentry plan if the accommodation or modification appears to be having the desired effect and the student is comfortable using it.


It may be appropriate for a student diagnosed with a concussion to participate in the MCAS-Alt rather than in the standard MCAS test in a subject, even with the provision of test accommodations, because the complexity and severity of the student's disability may make it impossible for the student to take a test of the intensity and duration of MCAS or to complete each test session in a single school day as required. The decision to designate a student for the MCAS-Alt is made by the IEP or 504 team.

The MCAS-Alt consists of a portfolio of work samples, data, and other evidence of a student's performance in the assessed subject that the student's teacher compiles over the course of the school year and submits to the state in early April. Additional information about MCAS-Alt is provided on the Department's website at MCAS Alternate Assessment (MCAS-Alt) page.

Circumstances in which Students with Concussions May Be Excused from MCAS Testing

A student diagnosed with a concussion may be excused from MCAS testing only if it is determined that participation would impede the student's recovery or endanger the student's health.

If a student is present in school but is not well enough to participate in MCAS testing, the student may participate in another academic activity based on the specifications in the graduated reentry plan. In making this determination, the principal should consult with one or more of the following, as appropriate: the school nurse, the guidance counselor, the student's teacher(s), members of the student's building-based support and assistance team or IEP team, parents/guardians, and the physician who made the diagnosis or is managing the student's recovery.

If it is determined that the student is not well enough to participate in one or more test sessions, follow the instructions in the Principal's Administration Manual to mark the student as having a medically documented absence. If a student is excused from MCAS testing, he or she will be receive the NTM designation (the Test Status Code for Not Tested Medically Documented Absence) in reports sent to parents/guardians, the school, and the district.

Last Updated: July 25, 2019

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