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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: January 12, 2016

Districts' Assessment Decision for Spring 2016

As you know, districts were asked to indicate their spring 2016 assessment decision last month. The Department has posted districts' decisions (listing by district and school). Districts with concerns about their listed decision should contact

Important Updates for the Spring 2016 MCAS Test Administration for Grades 3–8

Information for districts and schools regarding the test structure, administration, and reporting for the spring 2016 MCAS English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics tests for grades 3–8 has been posted on the Department's website.

MCAS Ordering Window for Spring 2016, MCAS-Alt, and March Retest

Principals are requested to place their order for upcoming MCAS administrations no later than Friday, January 15, 2016. Schools that are administering PARCC in spring 2016 must still complete the forms to order MCAS Science and Technology/Engineering tests for students in grades 5 and 8, MCAS ELA and Mathematics tests for students in grade 10, and MCAS-Alt materials for students in all grades. Please contact the MCAS Service Center at 800-737-5103 with any questions about ordering test materials or access to the MCAS Service Center website.

Spring 2016 MCAS Test Administration Training Sessions

The Department is holding spring 2016 MCAS test administration training sessions beginning in late January. For schools that will be administering MCAS tests in spring 2016, first-year principals must participate in one of the Department's training sessions on MCAS test security and test administration protocols; all other principals and test coordinators are encouraged to attend. Principals of schools administering PARCC tests only or the MCAS-Alt only are not required to attend. Registrations must be submitted between January 4 and 22. More details, including the instructions for registering, can be found on the MCAS website. Training sessions for districts administering PARCC will be held in late February; please stay tuned for more information.

Spring 2016 PARCC Assessment: Next Steps

  • Setting Up User Accounts in PearsonAccessnext
    In mid-February, the Department will delete all existing PearsonAccessnext accounts and create new accounts, based on information in the School/District Profiles, for superintendents, education technology directors, school principals, and test coordinators. All users will receive an email from with the subject line "New Account." This email will include a user ID and an initial password to log into PearsonAccessnext, the online tool schools and districts will use to manage and administer the spring 2016 PARCC tests. Email addresses for registered users of PearsonAccessnext will be used to deliver important emails and updates from Pearson, PARCC's testing contractor, and from the Department's PARCC team.

    If you are administering PARCC tests for the first time in spring 2016, you may review test administration and test coordinator resources on the PARCC Manuals and Training page; for schools offering the computer-based tests, technology guidelines and technical user guides are available on the PARCC Technology Setup page.

  • Updating the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP)
    In mid-February, the Department will import a SR/PNP file for students in grades 3–8 into PearsonAccessnext, based on October 2015 SIMS student demographic information. The Department will also import test accommodations information for students in grades 4–8 from the 2015 assessment in which the student participated (MCAS or PARCC). School and/or district staff must enter accommodations data for grade 3 students into the SR/PNP, as needed.

    For schools offering the paper-based test, March 11 is the deadline to make changes to SR/PNP for the initial shipment of paper test materials. Any updates to the SR/PNP that would require paper materials made after the March 11 deadline will require an additional materials order when the window opens on April 11. Schools offering the computer-based test may update the SR/PNP throughout the test administration window.

  • Conducting an Infrastructure Trial
    Schools and districts administering the computer-based test are strongly encouraged to conduct an infrastructure trial. To ensure that schools have adequate time to conduct the trial and resolve any technical or other issues that may be identified, Pearson recommends conducting the trial at least 4–8 weeks prior to testing. For further information, please review the Infrastructure Trial Readiness Guide, located on Avocet.

Important Dates

  • January 4–February 3: Additional materials ordering window for ACCESS for ELLs 2.0
  • January 7–February 10: Testing window for ACCESS for ELLs 2.0
  • January 13: Composition images for the November retest are scheduled to be available on the MCAS Service Center.
  • January 15: Interactive reports for the November retest are scheduled to be available in Edwin Analytics.
  • January 18: Abigail and John Adams Scholarship (supplementary) letters delivered to districts

Additional Resources

View External Link
2016 PARCC Unit Testing Times

Subscriber Information

Principals, MCAS test coordinators, PARCC test coordinators, special education directors, and ELL directors receive this update based on contact information submitted to the Department. To change your email address or to add another staff member, please follow the instructions below:
  • Public school districts, public schools, charter public schools, collaboratives, approved private special education schools: submit the new email address to your District-Level Directory Administrator.
  • Test sites, adult education programs, out-of-state schools, SEIS-DYS programs: go online to the EOE Information Technology web page (select "District/School Information Update" as the subject) to submit your update (be sure to include your District and School Code).
In addition to this update, PARCC districts may find the biweekly PARCC bulletins to be useful. We welcome your feedback at

Last Updated: January 15, 2016

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
135 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


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