A message from the
Massachusetts Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education

December 14, 2021
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News from DESE Student Assessment Services

For All Schools

1. MCAS Test Administration Training Sessions
Registration is now available for all of the test administration training sessions to support schools for spring 2022 MCAS testing. More information about the training plan was shared in the November 2 Update.
We extend a warm invitation to experienced principals and test coordinators to share your local procedures and perspective during the sessions. For example, does your school have specific procedures for setting up your systems for computer-based testing, or do you have any tips on organization or training to share with other schools? Please email us for details (note that your participation would be remote over Zoom).
2. MCAS-Alt Registration: January 314, 2022
MCAS-Alt submission materials can be ordered from January 3 to 14, 2022. Ordering these materials is separate from the student registration process for MCAS testing. Please check with teachers in your school to verify the number of students taking the MCAS-Alt in each grade.  

Beginning on January 3, principals can order MCAS-Alt submission materials for their school by following these steps:
  • Log in to the MCAS Service Center and select MCAS Alternate Assessment.
  • Click on Enrollment Verification.
  • Log in with your 2022 MCAS password, which will be posted in the DESE Security Portal on January 3.
  • Confirm your contact and school information by following the onscreen prompts.
  • Order materials for students in each grade who are taking the MCAS-Alt.
  • Click the Submit button. 
After submission, a confirmation page will be available onscreen that you may print for your records.
3. ACCESS for ELLs Reminders
a. ACCESS for ELLs Test Setup
Schools may now 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 PowerPoint slides for the workshops are now posted 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:
  • 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. Schools can participate in the field study between now and February 11, 2022 for the Reading and Writing domains. Participation 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 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.
4. Reminders from the Previous Update
a. Passwords for the MCAS Service Center Secure Website
Password memos will be posted on January 3, 2022, to the MCAS 2022 Data folder in DropBox Central, which is located in the Department’s Security Portal. See the previous update for further information.   

b. 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 tests, and June Biology and Introductory Physics tests online. Schools with extenuating circumstances should submit a waiver request here by January 14. Requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Please see the previous update for further information.  

c. 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 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.

d. Edwin Analytics "Office Hours" Webinars
Edwin Analytics resumed 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.  

e. MCAS-Alt January Portfolios-in-Progress (PIP) Review Sessions
Registration is now available 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. 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. Please see the previous update for further information.

f. 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).
For Grades 3–8
1. Volunteer Schools Needed for Grade 8 Civics Assessment Pilot this Spring
The Department is developing a new grade 8 civics assessment based on the 2018 Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework, incorporating performance-based tasks and computer-based test items. We are recruiting schools to participate in a voluntary pilot administration for spring 2022. The purpose of the pilot is to evaluate new performance tasks and new types of computer-based questions; no student, school, or district results will be generated.
The grade 8 civics assessment is made up of three sessions. Each session is expected to take approximately 45 minutes to complete. The three sessions include:
  • a local-level classroom performance task completed during class and scored by the classroom teacher (this task relates to the state-level task)
  • a computer-based state-level performance task scored by the Department
  • a short, computer-based end-of-course test scored by the Department
The administration window for the local- and state-level performance tasks will be March 14–April 29, 2022, and the administration window for the end-of-course test will be May 23–June 10, 2022.
To support schools, the Department is currently preparing a Grade 8 Civics Practice Test with items from last year’s pilot and plans to post it soon. In addition, Department staff will host a webinar on Tuesday, January 11 at 9:30–10:30 a.m. to share information on the structure of the civics pilot and provide a general overview for schools that are considering participating in this pilot opportunity. Schools can register for the training online.
Additional information on how to register for the grade 8 civics pilot will be included in a January 2022 Student Assessment Update.
For High Schools

1. Information about the February 2022 Biology Test
a. Eligibility and Participation Guidelines
As a reminder from the October 5 edition of the Student Assessment Update, the following students are eligible to participate in the February 2022 Biology test:
  • grades 9 and 10 (classes of 2025 and 2024) students who are either enrolled in a biology course or previously completed a high school biology course, and have not yet earned a scaled score of at least 220 on an STE test
  • adult learners in the class of 2019 or earlier who have not yet earned a scaled score of at least 220 on an STE test
Grade 10 students who completed a biology course last year should be provided the opportunity to take this test. If eligible students decide not to take the test, the Department recommends that schools have parents/guardians complete a Nonparticipation Form (students will then be required to take an STE test in June).
As a reminder, due to the COVID-19 school closures in spring 2020, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted that the STE component of the CD for students in the classes of 2020–2023 will be awarded upon demonstration of course credit in the relevant subject matter and competency in one of the four tested disciplines during their high school career. More information can be found on the Graduation Requirements and Related Guidance web page.
b. Test Format
The February 2022 Biology test will be the final administration of the legacy, paper-based test, aligned to "overlapping" standards from both the 2006 and 2016 STE frameworks. Results will be reported on the legacy scale (200–280). Beginning in June 2022, the Biology test will be a next-generation, computer-based test (with a paper-based edition for accommodations) that is aligned to the 2016 STE Framework. Results for the next-generation Biology test will be reported on the next-generation scale. In addition to the Biology test, a next-generation Introductory Physics test and legacy Chemistry and Technology/Engineering tests will be offered in June 2022. More information on the STE transition plan is available here.
Schools should note the following information about accessibility and accommodations for the February Biology test and plan accordingly:
  • Beginning with the February Biology test, the Braille version will be UEB (the EBAE version is now retired). The March retests and spring 2022 tests will all be UEB.
  • Kurzweil will be offered for the February Biology test, and in June 2022 for the legacy Chemistry and Technology/Engineering tests (but not in June for the next-generation Biology and Introductory Physics tests). 
To help educators prepare students for the February Biology test, released tests and student work are available.
c. Deadline for Student Registration: December 17
Schools must complete the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) process by December 17 to order student test materials for the February Biology test. If no students will participate, schools must email the MCAS Service Center with the school and district name and code. An updated Guide to the SR/PNP is now available on the MCAS Resource Center to assist schools in completing their registration.
2. Round 8 Modified CD Data in DropBoxes and Edwin Analytics
The Department has concluded its review of modified Competency Determination (CD) round 8 data that districts certified in the Security Portal during the October 21–November 19 collection window. This round included students from the classes of 2020, 2021, 2022, and grade SP students who were eligible for the modified CD in ELA, Mathematics, and STE.

Results from round 8 are now available in the MCAS 2022 Data DropBoxes in .CSV files [e.g., Modified_CD_round_8_Nov2021_....CSV]. The district-level file contains eligible students who were reported as enrolled in the district in June SIMS, including students in out-of-district placements such as collaboratives, private schools, and special education schools. The school-level file includes eligible students who were reported as enrolled in the school in June SIMS. A modified CD file layout is also included.

The updated Edwin Analytics CD Roster is now available, and the Modified CD Memo is scheduled to be available later this week. See the table below for additional details.
Table with Information Delivered and Scheduled Delivery Date. Round 8 modified CD .CSV files and file layout posted in MCAS 2022 Data DropBoxes in the DESE Security Portal, December 7. Student CD Roster – PE618 (available in Edwin Analytics, Achievement Analysis – Student Level), December 10. Modified CD Memo – PE620 (available in Edwin Analytics, Achievement Analysis – Student Level), December 16.
The round 9 collection window will open in early January and will include students added to the class of 2022 via October SIMS as well as those who were eligible in prior rounds but have not yet earned their CD in one or more subjects.

If you have any questions about the results or the modified CD process, please contact the Data Analysis and Reporting Office at
3. Results from the November Retests
Results from the November retests are scheduled to be available as indicated below.
Table with Information Delivered and Scheduled Delivery Date. .CSV files posted in DropBoxes in the DESE Security Portal; separate files provided for next-generation and legacy retests, as appropriate, February 4. Student Rosters and other interactive reports available in Edwin Analytics, February 11. Parent/Guardian Reports (one paper copy) delivered to district offices, February 28. Next-generation tests only: Parent/Guardian Reports in PearsonAccess Next, in Published Reports (at the school organization level), February 28.
As a reminder, DESE has transitioned to providing one paper copy of Parent/Guardian Reports to districts. Electronic versions of next-generation Parent/Guardian Reports will continue to be available in PearsonAccess Next. Schools and/or districts with a secure communication system, such as a password-protected "parent portal," may use it to send the reports electronically to parents; organizations should continue to provide paper copies of the reports to parents who do not have the ability to receive them electronically.
Additionally, students taking the next-generation retests must earn certain legacy-equivalent next-generation scores in ELA and Mathematics to meet the interim CD standard. Please see the November 16 SAS Update for a table of the minimum scores in each subject. Students may also qualify for the Adams Scholarship and Koplik Award based on the November retests. More information about Adams Scholarship letters for the November Retest will be provided in a future update.
Happy New Year and What's Next from Student Assessment Services

This is the last edition of the Student Assessment Update for 2021. All of us in Student Assessment Services would like to thank you and the educators in your schools for all the work you do on behalf of students and wish you a safe and happy holiday season and new year.

To help us improve future updates, please send us your input, particularly on the following:
  • Student Assessment Update newsletters: Have we been covering the topics you need? Do you have any suggestions for improvement? Are there topics you would find helpful in future updates?
  • Resources on the Department's MCAS website and the MCAS Resource Center: Are the resources easy to find? Are there any additional resources you would helpful?

Other Important Dates

Table with Category, Date(s), and Item. February Biology Administration, December 6–17,  Complete the pre-administration SR/PNP process.  January 26, Receive test materials. ACCESS for ELLs,	December 2–February 18, WIDA AMS test setup. January 4, Receive test materials. January 4–February 4, Order additional materials, if necessary. January 6–February 10, ACCESS for ELLs test sessions. March 2022 Retests, January 18–31, Complete the pre-administration SR/PNP process.
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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