A message from the
Massachusetts Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education

November 2, 2021
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News from DESE Student Assessment Services

For All Schools

1. MCAS Test Administration Training Sessions for Spring 2022
We are pleased to announce the list of training sessions to help support schools for the spring 2022 MCAS test administrations. The list is also available on the Training Opportunities web page, and registration will be available approximately one month prior to each session. Recordings of the sessions will be available at the MCAS Resource Center approximately one week after the training date.
Many of the sessions will be geared to all levels of experience and across different grade spans. New principals and test coordinators may find the Introduction to Computer-Based Testing for New Staff session (previously recorded) to be of particular assistance in addition to the sessions listed below. All principals and test coordinators are encouraged to participate in the appropriate MCAS Test Security and Administration Protocols training session, especially those who have not run an MCAS administration before.
We hope to have school representatives share their perspectives during the training sessions. More information will be provided in upcoming Student Assessment Updates.
2. Educators Sought for Assessment Development Committees
The Department is seeking educators to serve as members of the MCAS Assessment Development Committees in English language arts, mathematics, science, and civics, particularly for the assessments for grades 4–7. These are rewarding professional development opportunities for educators interested in learning about large-scale, standards-based assessment, and members receive an honorarium as well as professional development points.
More information about committee members’ roles and responsibilities and how to apply can be downloaded here. The Department is looking for a diverse pool of candidates who have experience working with racially, ethnically, linguistically, and socioeconomically diverse students. The new due date to submit an application is Friday, November 5. Please help spread the word by forwarding this information to colleagues!
3. ACCESS for ELLs WIDA Screener for Kindergarten: Field Study for Second-Semester Kindergarten and First-Semester Grade 1 Students 
The Department is developing English proficiency "cut scores" for the new WIDA Screener for Kindergarten. The WIDA Screener for Kindergarten will be available for use by districts on March 1, 2022. We are asking districts to volunteer to assist the Department if they plan to screen second-semester incoming kindergarten or first-semester incoming first-grade students between December 1 and February 11 using either the K W-APT or the K MODEL screeners. We are asking districts to "double screen" a small number of incoming students using their current screener plus the new WIDA Screener for Kindergarten. Details are available by email at
Contact Student Assessment Services with any questions about ACCESS for ELLs testing at or by phone at 781-338-3625.
For High Schools

1. Nonscorable Compositions for the ELA Legacy Retest
In preparation for the upcoming November ELA legacy retest, we would like to remind high schools that the Composition requires students to respond to a writing prompt based on a work of literature they have read. (As a reminder, this is the last planned legacy administration, and only certain students are eligible to participate.)

Some students participating in previous retest administrations did not address the prompt and therefore earned 0 out of 20 points for the Composition portion. These nonscorable retest compositions summarized a book but did not address the topic of the writing prompt.

We encourage you and your English teams to remind students of the importance of writing a composition that uses a work of literature to address the retest writing prompt. Educators may wish to view previously administered writing prompts, scoring guides, and sample student work at each legacy composition score point.

2. Next-Generation STE Tests will be Offered in American Sign Language and Spanish in June 2022
The next-generation Biology and Introductory Physics MCAS tests, in addition to the grade 10 Mathematics test, will be offered in both American Sign Language (ASL) and a Spanish/English edition in June 2022. ASL and Spanish will be embedded in the computer-based tests for students who have these accommodations. Spanish tests will also be available in paper-based format. More information will be shared in a future update.
3. MCAS Performance Appeals  Important Dates
An MCAS Performance Appeal may be submitted for eligible high school students who have not yet earned their Competency Determination (CD). MCAS Cohort Appeals are due to the Department on the first Friday of each month (October through June). Portfolio Appeals must be submitted by November 5, 2021. All appeals must be submitted using the online appeals application in the Security Portal. Please review the step-by-step guide for specific instructions. For more information, please visit the Performance Appeals page on the DESE website.
4. Reminders from the Previous Update 
a. Update on Eligibility Guidelines for November 2021 Retests for Scholarships and the Seal of Biliteracy 
DESE has updated the participation guidelines for the November 2021 retests to include the Seal of Biliteracy. Students are also eligible to participate in the November retests for scholarship purposes as described in the guidelines.

b. MCAS Interim Passing Standard for CD Extended
At its September meeting, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to extend the interim passing standard for the MCAS CD currently in place for students in the class of 2023 for two additional years, to students in the classes of 2024 and 2025 in English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science and Technology/Engineering (STE). The interim passing standard for next generation STE tests in Biology and Introductory Physics will be set in summer 2022, after the spring 2022 administration in those subjects; Chemistry and Technology/Engineering remain legacy, paper-based tests in spring 2022.  Please see the previous update for further information.

c. Technology Preparations for Next-Generation November 2021 Retests
Principals are reminded to meet with their technology coordinators and complete the technology preparations listed on pages 41–42 in Part IV, section B, step 1, of the Principal's Administration Manual. School technology coordinators are also encouraged to review the 2021–22 technology specifications  to confirm that their school’s devices can be used for November 2021 MCAS computer-based testing. Please see the previous update for further information.

Other Important Dates

Additional Resources
MCAS Service Center
for logistical support, including tech support for PearsonAccess Next and TestNav

Phone: 800-737-5103
Student Assessment Services
for policy questions, including student participation

Phone: 781-338-3625
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