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A message from the
Massachusetts Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education

November 30, 2021
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News from DESE Student Assessment Services

For All Schools

1. Passwords for the MCAS Service Center Secure Website
School and district passwords for the MCAS Service Center are changed at the close of each calendar year to maintain the site’s security. 

Memos containing passwords for use in 2022 will be posted on January 3, 2022, in the MCAS 2022 Data folder in DropBox Central, which is located in the Department’s Security Portal.
 
Passwords are provided for school principals, and district superintendents will receive a list of passwords for all the schools in their district. Paper copies of memos will not be mailed to schools or districts.
 
You will retain your 2021 password for use with certain tasks as described in the memo. Once you print your 2022 password, you will need to store it securely.
 
School principals will need to use the new password beginning on January 3, 2022, for ordering MCAS Alternate Assessment (MCAS-Alt) submission materials (the ordering window is January 3–14, 2022).
 
Schools that do not find their password in their DropBox by January 3 should contact the Department’s Office of Student Assessment Services (see contact information in the footer of this update). Questions about the MCAS Service Center website can be directed to the MCAS Service Center (also see the footer for their contact information).
2. Process to Request a Waiver from the MCAS CBT Expectation: Submit by January 14
Schools are expected to administer the March 2022 MCAS retests, spring 2022 grades 3–8 and 10 MCAS tests, and June Biology and Introductory Physics MCAS tests online. Districts/organizations with unique, extenuating circumstances may apply to instead administer paper-based testing if technology constraints or related issues make computer-based testing unfeasible, or if all students will take paper-based tests or participate in the MCAS Alternate Assessment as an accommodation. Schools with extenuating circumstances should submit a waiver request here by January 14. Requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
3. MCAS BYOD Participation: Notification Deadlines for Spring 2022
A “bring your own device” (BYOD) policy allows students to use their own devices for instruction. Schools with students who are using their own devices for instruction, and who would like to utilize these devices for MCAS testing in 2022, should email mcas@doe.mass.edu by the following deadlines for instructions on preparing devices:
  • March Retests: Monday, January 24, 2022
  • Spring Grades 3–8: Monday, January 31, 2022
  • Spring Grade 10: Monday, January 31, 2022
Schools who are using BYOD for MCAS for the first time are encouraged to reach out sooner than the above deadlines.
4. Edwin Analytics "Office Hours" Webinars to Resume
Edwin Analytics will resume its monthly "office hours" webinars on December 1. Each webinar includes a brief overview of a particular Edwin report (or set of reports) and plenty of Q&A time to explore any of the Edwin reports.

Use the embedded links for details and to subscribe to the Edwin Analytics mailing list.
5. MCAS-Alt January Portfolios-in-Progress (PIP) Review Sessions
Registration will be available on December 1 for MCAS-Alt review sessions to be held in January. Please encourage teachers who will be submitting the MCAS-Alt to register for a session. Trained reviewers will be available during scheduled virtual (Zoom) breakout rooms. Participants may sign up for a one-hour time block and are encouraged to prepare their questions in advance. There will be a limit on the number of educators in each session to allow participants and reviewers sufficient time to address questions. If an ASL interpreter is needed, please make your request at least 10 days in advance of the session by contacting the MCAS Service Center at 800-737-5103.
6. ACCESS for ELLs
a. ACCESS for ELLs Test Setup
On December 2, schools may begin the process of test setup in WIDA AMS. During test setup, ACCESS Test Coordinators can verify and change test sessions, update student demographic information (including accommodations), add students who enrolled in their school after the October SIMS submission, or remove students who exited after the October SIMS submission. More information on managing test sessions is available beginning on page 62 of the WIDA AMS User Guide.
 

b. ACCESS for ELLs Test Coordinator Training Webinars
DESE will conduct virtual workshops for new and returning school and district ACCESS for ELLs Test Coordinators in December, according to the schedule below. The Department will post the PowerPoint slides for the workshops on the Massachusetts state page on the WIDA website under Manuals, Guides and Workshops. If you are a new Test Coordinator, please ensure that you have taken the online training(s) in the WIDA Secure Portal for the tests you will administer before participating in the DESE training webinar.
Dates for the webinars are:
  • Thursday, December 9 from 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. (Returning Test Coordinators)
  • Tuesday, December 14 from 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m. (New Test Coordinators)
  • Wednesday, December 15 from 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. (New Test Coordinators)
  • Thursday, December 16 from 1:30 p.m.–3:00 p.m. (Returning Test Coordinators)
Please register here.
 

c. WIDA Screener for Kindergarten (“K Screener”) Field Study: Literacy
Districts are invited to participate in a field study to determine the appropriate cut scores for English proficiency used to identify students entering second semester kindergarten and first semester first grade in January 2022. The field study will occur between December 1, 2021 and February 11, 2022 for the Reading and Writing domains and will involve “double-screening” a small number of students on the screener currently used by the district and the new WIDA Screener for Kindergarten. Students should be given a short break between screeners, and districts should be prepared to report screener scores for those students.
 
Please email your name, district, and the name of the kindergarten screener you currently use to access@mass.gov. Information and details will be emailed to you separately.
 
As a reminder, the K Screener is not yet available for use as a tool to identify students for English language services. The K W-APT and the K MODEL are the only screeners approved for that purpose. The K Screener is anticipated to be ready for use as a screening tool in March 2022.
7. Holiday Hours for the MCAS Service Center
The MCAS Service Center, operated by the Department’s testing contractor, Cognia, will be closed for the holidays beginning on December 20, and will reopen on January 4. Schools should plan to call for support before December 20 if possible. If you have any urgent questions for the MCAS Service Center during this period of time, please contact the Department’s Office of Student Assessment Services (see contact information in the footer of this update).
8. Reminder from the Previous Update: Intent to Seek a Waiver to the One Percent Limit on Alternate Assessments
The Department intends to seek an extension of its waiver from the federal one percent limit on the number of students who can take alternate assessments (i.e., the MCAS-Alt). The Department welcomes the public’s comments regarding its intent to apply for this waiver. The Notice of Intent to Apply is posted here. Comments may be submitted via email to mcas@doe.mass.edu until Wednesday, December 1. Please see the previous update for further information.
For High Schools

1. Registration for the February Biology Test: December 617
Schools must complete the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) process between December 6 and 17 to order student test materials for the February Biology test.

To assist schools in registering students for the February Biology test, the Department will place two separate .CSV files in school and district MCAS 2022 DropBoxes, in the DESE Security Portal, on December 6: one file that includes all grade 9 students, and a second file that includes grade 10 students who have not yet earned the CD in STE. Note that students in the classes of 2022 and 2023 are eligible for the modified CD in STE and are not included. As in prior years, the Department is not able to pre-populate test accommodations for the February Biology test.
 
A response is required from each high school by December 17, even if no students at the school will take the test. If no students will participate, email the MCAS Service Center with the school and district name and code. The MCAS Service Center will be calling high schools that do not complete the SR/PNP (or do not contact them before the deadline).
 
Superintendents must ensure that educational collaboratives and approved private special education schools order test materials via the SR/PNP process for their students in out-of-district placements.
 
An updated Guide to the SR/PNP Process will be posted to the MCAS Resource Center by December 6. The following resources are currently available for guidance in completing the SR/PNP:
Questions about ordering test materials can be directed to the MCAS Service Center, and questions about policies or participation guidelines can be directed to the Office of Student Assessment Services (see contact information for both in the footer of this update).

Other Important Dates

Table with Category, Date(s), and Item.  February Biology Administration, December 6–17, Complete the pre-administration SR/PNP process. ACCESS for ELLs, December 2–February 18, WIDA AMS test setup.
Additional Resources
CONTACT
MCAS Service Center
for logistical support, including tech support for PearsonAccess Next and TestNav

Email: mcas@cognia.org
Phone: 800-737-5103
Student Assessment Services
for policy questions, including student participation

Email: mcas@doe.mass.edu
Phone: 781-338-3625
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