A message from the
Massachusetts Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education

September 7, 2021
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News from DESE Student Assessment Services

For All Schools

1. About This Update
We welcome everyone back for the new school year. The Department typically sends the Student Assessment Update on a biweekly basis to principals, MCAS test coordinators, special education directors, and English learner (EL) program directors based on contact information submitted to the Department.
We encourage you to share this update with your test administration teams or develop a plan for communicating relevant information to them. Individuals who would like to receive the update directly can subscribe by following the instructions at the bottom of this newsletter.
2. Information for New Test Coordinators
MCAS test coordinators who are starting their role as coordinator this school year are encouraged to reach out to the former test coordinator or the school principal for the following information:
  • instructions on how to contact the district-level Directory Administrator, who can assign a staff member the test coordinator role in DESE's Directory Administration application. (The test coordinator will receive MCAS emails, including this update, and have access to Edwin and the Security Portal.)
  • the school password for the MCAS Service Center website
  • a link to the MCAS Resource Center, where training materials and practice tests, among other materials, are posted
  • school procedures as applicable
3. Official Embargoed MCAS Data Files Available Wednesday, September 15; Edwin Reports Available Friday, September 17
On September 15, schools and districts will have access to official embargoed .CSV data files in all assessed grades from the spring 2021 MCAS tests in English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics, and Science and Technology/Engineering (STE). The data files will be available in DropBox Central in the Department's Security Portal:
  • grades 3–8 and 10 next-generation ELA and Mathematics
  • grades 5 and 8 next-generation STE
  • legacy high school ELA and Mathematics
  • high school STE tests in Biology, Chemistry, Introductory Physics, and Technology/Engineering
Official embargoed results in Edwin Analytics, also located on the Security Portal, are scheduled to be available on Friday, September 17. The results have been updated with discrepancies that the Department confirmed and resolved during the August 10–13 discrepancy reporting window. School and district staff who submitted a discrepancy may view the status of their request on the Discrepancy Reporting site at Grade 8 STE results for students who tested remotely are under review and are not included; more information will be provided in a future update. Please remember that all data are embargoed until the official public release of results, which is scheduled for Tuesday, September 21. Until that time, districts and schools are encouraged to use the data for educational planning purposes.
4. Parent/Guardian Reports Delivered to Districts and Available in PAN on Thursday, September 30
On September 30, Parent/Guardian Reports are scheduled to be delivered to district offices and made available in PearsonAccess Next (PAN). As a reminder, districts will receive one paper copy of the Parent/Guardian Report; electronic versions will be available in PAN to MCAS test coordinators and users with the Published Reports role.
5. View New Edwin Analytics Interface: Webinar with Q & A September 16
Edwin Analytics has transitioned to a PowerBI application with a new user interface.  While much of the Edwin experience is similar to what users are familiar with, the Department took the opportunity to make some enhancements along with the transition.
Sign up to join the webinar on Thursday September 16 from 10:00-11:00 AM to explore the new user interface and changes.  This will be a demonstration with extensive time for Q&A. 
This webinar is a repeat of Exploring Edwin webinars held over the summer.
6. TestNav System Requirements and Updated App Available for 2021-22
Schools should review the TestNav system requirements and update operating systems as necessary for the 2021–2022 school year. Schools should note that in accordance with the TestNav System Requirement Policy, ChromeOS 83–90 will no longer be supported.

Additionally, the latest annual TestNav release, app version 1.10, is available for download. Districts that did not install this version of TestNav over the summer must install it now for use in the 2021–2022 school year. High schools should plan to download this latest version prior to the November retests. Schools will not need to update TestNav again prior to spring 2022 MCAS testing. Please see this technical bulletin for more information.
7. Accessibility and Accommodations Resources Now Available
8. Grade-Level and Competency Portfolios
Students with significant disabilities who are performing at or near grade level but cannot demonstrate their knowledge and skills on standard MCAS tests, even with accommodations, may be eligible to submit a “grade-level” or “competency” portfolio. The updated Grade-Level and Competency Portfolio Manual provides guidelines on student participation, requirements for submission, and important dates.
9. MCAS Alternate Assessment Results
a. Preliminary 2021 MCAS-Alt Results Available Electronically on September 7
Portfolio Feedback Forms (PFFs) containing preliminary MCAS-Alt results will be available September 7 in each school's DropBox in the DESE Security Portal. The principal or test coordinator should download the PFFs and share them with the teacher who compiled the MCAS-Alt. For assistance logging in to the Security Portal, contact the district (or organization) Directory Administrator. MCAS-Alt portfolios will be returned to schools in October with a print copy of the PFF.

b. MCAS-Alt Score Appeals: Submit between September 7 and 24
Once principals and educators have reviewed the preliminary MCAS-Alt results, and there is evidence that a portfolio was scored incorrectly, the principal or other designee may submit an MCAS-Alt score appeal. The deadline for score appeal submission is 5:00 p.m. on Friday, September 24. Score appeals will not be accepted after this date, and no changes to an MCAS-Alt score can be made after the score appeal process. 
Schools must review the following materials before submitting an MCAS-Alt score appeal:
  • the PFF from the scored portfolio (available as described above)
  • the photocopy of the portfolio kept at the school
  • the frequently asked questions about MCAS-Alt score appeals
To submit an MCAS-Alt score appeal, go to the 2021 MCAS-Alt score appeal website and follow the instructions on the appeal application. Note that additional portfolio evidence may not be submitted with the score appeal. Once the appeal is submitted, an email will be sent to the administrator confirming receipt. Notification of appeal results will be provided by mail to schools in October.
For High Schools

1. Process to Request a Waiver from the MCAS CBT Expectation for November Retests: Submit by September 20
High schools will be administering the November next-generation computer-based tests online and legacy as paper-based tests only (please see the previous update for participation guidelines). Districts/organizations with unique, extenuating circumstances may apply to instead administer next-generation paper-based testing for all students for this administration by September 20, for any of the following reasons:
  • Technology constraints or related issues make computer-based testing unfeasible.
  • All students will take paper-based tests as an accommodation.
Please note the following:
  • Requests should be submitted at the district/organization level and must be approved by the superintendent/director.
  • Requests may be made at a granular level by school, grade, and subject (e.g., School A is requesting a waiver for November because this grade is being housed in a temporary location while the new school is being built).
To request a waiver, please write to, and include the following in your request:
  • the district and school name
  • test(s) for which a waiver is requested
  • the reason why your organization is submitting the request
Please note: Requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
2. MCAS Performance Appeals
Students who have been unable to meet the CD requirements by passing the required high school tests and/or who are ineligible for the Board approved CD modification may be eligible for an MCAS performance appeal, an alternative pathway to meet the CD requirements. Please review the step-by-step guide for submitting appeals using the new online process. Other important information about submission deadlines, cohort appeals, portfolio appeals, and required appeals submission forms can be found here.
Cohort appeals must be received by the Department by the first Friday of each month, from October to June, to be reviewed that month. Portfolio appeals will be reviewed in November, May, and July, according to this published timetable. Students for whom appeals are filed should participate in all available MCAS retests until the CD is awarded.
3. Reminders from the Previous Update: Information on the November Retests
a. Registration for the November Retests
Schools must complete the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) process between September 20 and October 1 to register students and order student test materials for the November retests. Please see the previous update for further information.

b. Participation Guidelines
Retests will be offered in November in both next-generation and legacy formats for ELA and Mathematics. Please see the previous update for further information regarding who is eligible to participate.

c. Infrastructure Trial Window
The window for conducting an Infrastructure Trial for the next-generation November retest administration opens on Monday, September 27. Please see the previous update for further information.

d. MCAS November Retest Training Sessions
Registration is now available for the November retest training sessions. Descriptions of the sessions and are listed below. Please see the previous update for further information.
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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Principals, MCAS test coordinators, special education directors, and EL program directors will receive the update automatically. See this page for details. For others wishing to receive this update, please subscribe
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