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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Student Assessment Update: February 2, 2017

Contact Information

MCAS Service Center
Phone: 800-737-5103
for logistical support, including questions about technology
Student Assessment Services
Phone: 781-338-3625
for policy questions, including questions about student participation

Latest Updates from Student Assessment Services

Availability of Student Tutorial (CBT) and Practice Tests (CBT and PBT)

We are pleased to announce the schedule for the release of the student tutorial and practice tests in preparation for spring 2017 MCAS paper and computer-based testing for grades 3–8 English Language Arts and Mathematics. (Links to the resources as well as expected dates are in included the table below.) The CBT resources provide the opportunity to experience the student testing platform, including the tools and accessibility features that will be available to students during testing. This is also an opportunity to become familiar with new technology-enhanced question types. Since this is the first year of computer-based testing for MCAS, the Department strongly encourages schools to have all students view the tutorial and take practice tests. As shown in the table below, there are two different ways to access CBT practice tests. Whether you access via the web or the TestNav app, you will find the same practice test for each grade and subject area. To support schools and districts becoming familiar with these new resources, the Department will host an office hours conference call session on February 10, from 10:00–11:30 a.m. Schools may register for the session online until February 8 at 5:00 p.m.
ItemExpected to be availableDescription
Student tutorialOn or around February 3The Department strongly recommends that schools have all their students view the student tutorial, even those who have previously participated in computer-based testing, and especially students who have not previously participated in computer-based testing.

During the tutorial, students will click through different screens and review brief descriptions on how to navigate through the student testing platform. The tutorial shows students how to use different onscreen tools and accessibility features, as well as how to enter seal codes at the beginning of a session, and how to review responses before submitting a test.

The tutorial contains no audio component, so educators may want to view the tutorial to become familiar with the tools and features before viewing it with students. The tutorial should take approximately 20–30 minutes to complete.
Web-based practice testsAvailable on a rolling basis, beginning on or around February 1These can easily be shared with parents/guardians and the school community. It mimics the environment of the TestNav student testing platform without needing to download the application.

A text-to-speech version of the practice tests will be available later this winter for schools to prepare students who will be using this accommodation.
Practice tests accessed via the TestNav app

Download the TestNav8 application, choose Massachusetts customer list, and select the Practice Tests link on the sign in screen.
Available shortly after the web-based practice tests are postedThis version of the practice tests more closely reflects the actual student testing experience since they will access the practice test via the TestNav application during live testing.

A text-to-speech version of the practice tests will be available later this winter for schools to prepare students who will be using this accommodation.
Paper-based practice testsAvailable now 

Reminder: MCAS Training Opportunities Available

The Department is offering a number of training opportunities. A list of sessions, along with a description of and registration information, can be found on our website. Registration is currently open for the following sessions:
Pre-Administration Tasks for Technology Staff in Grades 3–8WebEx on February 9
Office Hours on MCAS ResourcesConference call on February 10 (registration link above)
MCAS Test Security and Administration Protocols for Grades 3–8Conference calls on February 13 and 14
Face-to-face sessions on February 15 and 16

Frequently Asked Questions about the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) Process for Grades 3–8

At the end of this update are some frequently asked questions on the SR/PNP process. We hope that this guidance supplements the Guide to the SR/PNP — Grades 3–8 (click on the "User Guides" dropdown), the online training module, and the Department's conference call sessions from January 23 and 25 (please email to request a copy of the slides and the audio recording). Further questions that you and your teams may have about the SR/PNP process can be directed to the MCAS Service Center at 800-737-5103.

High School MCAS Accommodation 20 — Organizer, Checklist, Reference Sheet

The deadline for Department approval of individualized Mathematics or Science and Tech/Eng reference sheets and ELA graphic organizers for students with disabilities taking high school MCAS tests and retests is February 3. Individualized sheets must be approved by the Department before they may be used by a student during testing, and must be reapproved if originally approved in 2015 or earlier. Individualized sheets may be faxed to the Student Assessment office at 781-338-3630 using the High School MCAS Accommodation 20 Cover Sheet Download MS WORD Document, and will be reviewed in the order in which they were received.

February Biology Test and March Retest materials orders

Please be aware that test materials ordered in PearsonAccess Next for students with disabilities who receive the Human Read Aloud/Human Signer accommodation will not include an additional test booklet for the test administrator(s). If you need an additional test booklet for a test administrator, you will need to place an additional materials order through the MCAS Service Center. Please be aware that materials ordered for the spring high school test administrations will include an extra booklet for test administrators who read aloud or sign the test to one or more students as an accommodation.

Important Dates

  • January 5–February 8: ACCESS for ELLs testing window
  • January 23–February 10: SR/PNP process for spring grades 3–8 tests on PAN
  • February 24: MCAS November retest Parent/Guardian Reports delivered to districts via UPS

Additional Resources

Spring 2017 MCAS High School Principal Administration's Manual
View HTML Page
District Testing Decisions for Spring Grades 3–8 MCAS Testing
Download PDF Document
Release of November Retest Information
Download MS WORD Document
MCAS Pre-Administration Guide for the Spring 2017 MCAS Grades 3–8 Computer-Based Tests
Download MS EXCEL Document
Computer-Based Testing Device Planner
What should I do if students have different accommodations than those listed on the student roster that the Department uploaded?
If accommodations are different from what was loaded by Department, schools can add or remove a student's accommodations in the SR/PNP using either of the two methods described below: updating accommodations directly in PearsonAccess Next (PAN), or importing an SR/PNP file into PAN.

To update accommodations directly in PAN, use the following steps:
  1. From the Setup dropdown, select Students.
  2. Search for the student by last name or SASID. Once found, select the checkbox next to the student's SASID.
  3. From the Select Tasks dropdown, select Manage Student Tests and click Start.
  4. Select the student's test on the left side of the screen and then you will be able to add or remove accommodations for the selected test (you will need to repeat this step for each student test that needs to be edited).
  5. Once complete, click Save.
To update accommodations via an SR/PNP file, use the following steps:
  1. From the Setup dropdown, select Import/Export Data.
  2. From the Select Tasks dropdown, select Import/Export Data and click Start.
  3. From the Type dropdown, select Student Registration Export and click Process.
  4. Once the file downloads, open the .CSV file in Excel.
  5. Edit fields as appropriate (refer to the Guide to the SR/PNP — Grades 3–8 if needed).
  6. Save the file as a .CSV and go back to the Import/Export page in PAN (Setup > Import/Export Data > Import Export Data).
  7. Select Student Registration Import from the type dropdown.
  8. Choose the saved .CSV file and click Process.

Where do I indicate that a student needs a read-aloud accommodation?
The human reader accommodation can be selected for a student directly in PAN or by importing a SR/PNP file into PAN (follow the steps in the first question). Note: Online Human Reader and Human Signer students must be placed into a Human Reader test session in PAN. This ensures that all students have the same form assigned and also gives TestNav credentials to the test administrator to log into a separate computer to read aloud to the group. To mark a session as Human Reader, follow the steps below.
  1. From the Testing dropdown, select Sessions.
  2. Search for the session and then select the checkbox next to the session name.
  3. From the Select Tasks dropdown, select Create/Edit Sessions and click Start.
  4. Select the Proctor Reads Aloud checkbox and select the Form Group Type from the dropdown.
  5. Click Save.

How do I add new users in PAN?
Users can be added by District Test Coordinator, Principal, or School Test Coordinator by following the steps below. Alternatively, users can be added with by completing a User Import (see the Guide to Importing Users into PearsonAccess Next; click on the "User Information" dropdown).
  1. From the Setup dropdown, select Users.
  2. From the Select Tasks dropdown, select Create/Edit Users and click Start.
  3. Enter required fields indicated by a red asterisk. It is recommended that the Username match the individual's Email Address.
  4. Click Save.

Can I change the format of the .CSV file?
PAN will only allow .CSV files to be imported. Files can be saved in .xlsx format while working in them, but they must be changed back to .CSV prior to importing.

The Guide to the SR/PNP states that we can delete students from the .CSV file but when I try to so, I receive an error message saying that there are empty fields or blank rows. What should I do?
You cannot simply highlight a row and hit the "delete" button here. When deleting rows in Excel, use the following steps.
  1. Select the row(s) to be deleted.
  2. Right-click and select Delete from the options. Do not use the "Delete" button on your keyboard.

What are the procedures using the PAN user interface to change organizations for students who transfer from one school to another?
If a student transfers from one school to another, it is the responsibility of each school to make the appropriate changes in their own organization. The new school is responsible for adding the student to their SR/PNP (directly in PAN or via an SR/PNP file import). This can be done even if the student is enrolled at another school.

The school that the student is transferring out of is responsible for removing any assigned tests and for "un-registering" the student from the administration. However, if the new school has already assigned tests to the student, you will not be able to unregister them from the administration. In that case, the former school should just remove test assignments.

To remove test assignments, use the following steps:
  1. From the Setup dropdown, select Students.
  2. Search for the student by last name or SASID. Once found, select the checkbox next to the student's SASID.
  3. From the Select Tasks dropdown, select Manage Student Tests and click Start.
  4. Unselect the "Assigned" checkbox for the students test and click save.
To "Unregister" the student, use the following steps:
  1. From the Setup dropdown, select Students.
  2. Search for the student by last name or SASID. Once found, select the checkbox next to the students SASID.
  3. From the Select Tasks dropdown, select Register Student Tests and click Start.
  4. Unselect the "Registered" checkbox and click Save.


Subscriber Information

Principals, MCAS test coordinators, special education directors, and ELL directors automatically receive this Student Assessment Update based on contact information submitted to the Department. To change your email address or to add another staff member who serves in one of these roles, 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).
For others who wish to subscribe, email with the following information in the body of the email: "subscribe SASUpdate Your_Name" (Example: subscribe SASUpdate John_Smith). To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with the following information in the body: "unsubscribe SASUpdate." We welcome your questions and feedback at Thank you.

Last Updated: February 6, 2017

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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