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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

Reminder of Transition Plan for 2018-2019 Next-Generation MCAS tests

News from Commissioner Mitchell Chester & the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education On the Desktop - June 23, 2017 Dear Superintendents, Collaborative Directors, and Charter School Leaders, As we close out the first year of next-generation MCAS testing in grades 3-8, we would like to remind you of the ongoing transition plan for computer-based testing and also make you aware of our upcoming plans for next-generation high school testing in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics.

Reminder of Grades 3-8 Transition Plan

The Commonwealth's first year of computer-based, next-generation MCAS testing went very smoothly, with close to 500,000 computer-based tests completed this spring. Although we received reports of isolated issues or problems (such as power outages), the testing system worked well overall, and virtually all students who were assigned to take a computer-based test did so successfully. The transition to full computer-based testing continues next year as follows:
  • For next year's tests (spring 2018), our expectation is that all schools will administer the following tests using the computer-based format:
    • Grade 4 ELA and Mathematics
    • Grade 5 ELA, Mathematics, and Science and Technology/Engineering (STE)
    • Grade 7 ELA and Mathematics
    • Grade 8 ELA, Mathematics, and STE
  • Although the science and technology/engineering tests at grades 5 and 8 will be given on a computer, they will continue to be the legacy test designs. Next-generation STE tests will be given at these grades for the first time in spring 2019.
  • For grades 3 and 6, schools may elect to administer either the computer-based or the paper-based tests next spring. In spring 2019, all schools will administer the computer-based tests at these grades.
  • Paper-based tests will always be available as an accommodation as required by a student's individualized education program (IEP) and as needed for the small number of students who do not have IEPs but who are unable to take a computer-based test for other reasons.
  • Similar to the 2016-2017 school year, this fall, districts will have an opportunity to apply for a waiver from computer-based testing for one or more of their schools, provided the school is making a good-faith effort to comply and has a plan for being on track to full computer-based testing in spring 2019.

Next-Generation High School Testing for ELA and Mathematics
Computer-Based Pilot Tests in Spring 2018, First Operational Tests in Spring 2019

As you are aware, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted in November 2015 to delay implementation of the next-generation grade 10 ELA and Mathematics tests until 2019 (the class of 2021). This decision was made in large part to ensure that students in the class of 2021 would experience the next-generation computer-based tests as eighth graders (in spring 2017) before taking the next-generation grade 10 tests as part of their competency determination (in spring 2019). In order to help high schools prepare for the next-generation assessments and to field test the new test questions, the Department plans to administer computer-based pilot tests in the spring of 2018 to some students in grade 10 according to the following general guidelines:
  • It is expected that every high school will administer at least one pilot test (ELA or mathematics) to a portion of its students. This will allow the Department to gather useful information about new test questions, and it will also provide high schools an opportunity to administer MCAS using the new online systems, which will serve to prepare schools for full computer-based testing in 2019.
  • Each pilot test (ELA and mathematics) will be one session and will take approximately 60-90 minutes to complete.
  • The pilot tests will be administered at a time that does not interfere with the regularly scheduled grade 10 ELA and mathematics testing in spring 2018.
We will be providing much more information about the spring 2018 pilot tests and the spring 2019 operational tests in the coming month, including detailed schedules, technology requirements, full test designs, and lists of assessable standards. Department staff in Student Assessment Services and our Office of Digital Learning are available to answer your questions and provide additional assistance.

Sincerely, Mitchell D. Chester

Last Updated: September 15, 2017

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

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


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