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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

MCAS Achievement Level Definitions

Legacy MCAS Achievement Level Definitions

Student results on legacy MCAS tests (in spring 2017: Grades 5 and 8 STE, Grade 10 ELA and mathematics, and high school STE) are reported according to the following achievement levels:

Grades 3-8 tests:
Advanced, Proficient, Needs Improvement, Warning
Grade 10 tests:
Advanced, Proficient, Needs Improvement, Failing

The achievement level definitions below, which apply across subject areas and grade levels, are used as a basis for determining the minimum score for each of the achievement levels on each of the MCAS tests. Also linked below are definitions of achievement levels for each content area tested. The general and content-specific definitions are meant to help teachers, students, parents, and others understand the meaning of the MCAS results.

General Achievement Level Definitions

Advanced

Students at this level demonstrate a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of rigorous subject matter, and provide sophisticated solutions to complex problems.

Proficient

Students at this level demonstrate a solid understanding of challenging subject matter and solve a wide variety of problems.

Needs Improvement

Students at this level demonstrate a partial understanding of subject matter and solve some simple problems.

Warning (Grades 3-8)/Failing (High School)

Students at this level demonstrate a minimal understanding of subject matter and do not solve simple problems.

Content-Specific Achievement Level Definitions

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English Language Arts
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Mathematics
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Grade 5 STE Achievement Level Descriptors
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Grade 8 STE Achievement Level Descriptors
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High School Biology (Legacy)
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High School Chemistry (Legacy)
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High School Introductory Physics (Legacy)
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High School Technology/Engineering (Legacy)
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Legacy Performance Level Descriptors

Last Updated: November 2, 2020

 
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