A message from the
Massachusetts Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education

February 15, 2022
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News from DESE Student Assessment Services

For All Schools

1. Technology Preparations for the March Retests and Spring 2022 Testing
For both the upcoming March retests and the spring tests for grades 3–8 and 10, it is timely for principals to meet with their technology coordinators and complete the technology preparations listed in the Principal’s Administration Manuals (PAMs):

Principals are also encouraged to review the 2022 technology specifications with their technology coordinator to confirm that their school’s devices can be used for the March retests and spring 2022 MCAS computer-based tests (CBT). Additionally, if technology coordinators did not participate in the Pre-Administration Tasks for Technology Staff webinar held on February 1, the recording is now available.

The following are additional topics for the meeting with technology coordinators:

a. Special Instructions for Schools Using Tablets
If your school is using iPads or tablets, it is important to meet with technology staff to determine whether wired keyboards will be used. Using the built-in keyboard when testing with iPads and other tablets can lead to presentation issues, including the screen “jumping” when the keyboard appears and difficulties in viewing the prompt when writing essay responses. The Department recommends using a wired, external keyboard for testing to help mitigate these issues. If wired keyboards will be used, give students the opportunity to practice with them during practice tests.

b. Updates to Operating Systems
Schools that are considering updating the operating systems on their testing devices should first confirm whether the update is supported by TestNav. Schools are encouraged to run an Infrastructure Trial after an operating system update to ensure that TestNav continues to operate smoothly with the update applied. Technology coordinators are encouraged to schedule a call with Pearson’s technology support specialists if they have questions about operating system updates.

c. Best Practice for TestNav Configuration
Regardless of whether your school will use ProctorCache, all schools should set up a secondary save location in PearsonAccess Next (PAN) for student response files. The secondary save location can be used to retrieve a backup copy of students’ responses should they become lost or corrupted on a testing device that fails. Save location settings can be found in PAN in Setup>TestNav Configurations. More information on configuring secondary save locations is available in the PAN User Guide

2. Resources for Preparing for Computer-Based Testing
a. Checklist of Tasks
Principals are encouraged to use the checklist in the PAM to keep track of the tasks to be completed before, during, and after testing. The checklist is posted as a separate excerpt on the DESE website for the retests and the spring tests

b. Student Tutorial, Practice Tests, and Other Resources
Schools are encouraged to administer the student tutorial and practice tests to students, including students who have previously participated in CBT. In addition to the tutorial, schools can use the grade 10 practice tests on the MCAS Resource Center to prepare students for the March retests.

Practice tests are available online and can also be accessed via the TestNav app. More information is provided in the Retest PAM (pages 35–36) and the Spring PAM (page 39). A third way to access the practice tests is through the Infrastructure Trial; more information on these practice tests is available in the Infrastructure Trial Readiness Guide

c. Excerpts of MCAS Test Administration Manuals
PDFs of the PAM and the Test Administrator’s Manuals (TAMs), along with excerpts from each manual, are now available for the retests and for the spring tests
  • Examples of PAM excerpts:
    • a checklist of tasks to complete before, during, and after CBT testing
    • procedures for paper-based testing (PBT)
    • accessibility and accommodations information to share with IEP/504 teams and others
  • Examples of TAM excerpts:
    • separate scripts for each test session
    • additional instructions for CBT
    • procedures for administering the student questionnaire for grades 4, 5, 8, and 10
d. PowerPoints for Training Test Administrators
The timeline in the PAM checklist suggests training test administrators at least one week before test administration, so that the training will be fresh in their minds prior to testing and because paper copies of manuals will be available at that time. Principals who would like to begin training test administrators now may print the Test Administrator’s Manuals or relevant excerpts. In addition, PowerPoint templates are now available for training test administrators for the retests and the spring tests (download links).
3. Initial Release of the 202223 MCAS and ACCESS for ELLs Testing Schedule
The initial MCAS and ACCESS for ELLs testing schedule for the next school year will be posted later this week.
4. Reminders from the Previous Update
a. ACCESS for ELLs: Ordering Additional Materials and Returning Materials
The deadline for ordering additional ACCESS test materials using WIDA AMS is February 25. Please attempt to limit additional orders to one order per school. For information on labeling and returning test materials, see the Massachusetts State Specific Directions. We remind districts that ACCESS testing must be completed by March 4, with test materials returned no later than March 8.  Schools that have completed testing are encouraged to return their Grades 1–3 Writing Test Booklets as early as possible. Please see the previous update for further information.
b. MCAS-Alt March Portfolios-in-Progress (PIP) Review Sessions
Registration is now available for educators wishing to attend a virtual MCAS-Alt Portfolios-in-Progress review session in March. Please encourage teachers who will be submitting MCAS-Alt portfolios to register for a session. See the previous update for the session schedule and additional information.
For Grades 3–8

1. Updated Grades 35 Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) Instructional Guidelines
The STE Grades 3–5 Instructional Guidelines have been updated to include additional information about the science and engineering practices (SEPs) and the disciplinary core ideas (DCIs). The Instructional Guidelines include guidance for instruction and assessment of the standards in the Massachusetts STE Curriculum Framework. These guidelines are aligned with assessment expectations for the grade 5 MCAS STE test. The document does not include all the standards that will be assessed on MCAS STE tests and should not be used as a complete curriculum guide.   
For High Schools

1. Availability of TestNav; Requests to Test outside Regular Hours for March Retests
To maintain the security of the testing system during the March 2022 retests, TestNav will be available only during the test administration window, between 7:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on those days.
To request permission to conduct testing outside the hours given above (e.g., an evening high school that would like to begin testing after 4:00 p.m.), the principal must email Requests should be submitted by March 2.  The email should include the following information:
  • school and district names
  • school and district codes
  • specific days/times being requested for testing
  • reason for request
  • PAN Session Name(s)
It is important that requests be submitted by March 2, since schools will need to complete follow-up steps upon receiving approval of their requests.
2. Update to the Adams Scholarship for the Class of 2024
In response to disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the eligibility criteria for the class of 2024 will be based on students who qualify for the scholarship with all three scores (Option 1) and again for students who qualify based on their ELA and Math scores only (Option 2). Refer to the Adams Scholarship web page for details.
3. Phasing Out the MCAS Chemistry and Technology/Engineering Tests
In January 2022, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to phase out the legacy, paper-based MCAS Chemistry and Technology/Engineering tests due to low enrollment numbers.

Please note, however, that these two tests will be offered in June 2022, along with the next-generation tests in Biology and Introductory Physics (see the participation guidelines for details).  

In June 2023, only students in the class of 2025 and earlier (students in grade 10 next year and above) will be eligible to take the Chemistry and Technology/Engineering tests. Students in the class of 2026 and beyond (students in grade 9 next year and later classes) will not be eligible to take a Chemistry or Technology/Engineering test; instead, students in grade 9 must participate in a next-generation Biology or Introductory Physics test by the end of grade 10. June 2023 will be the last administration of the Chemistry and Technology/Engineering tests. No Chemistry or Technology/Engineering test will be offered in 2024 or beyond. 

More information about MCAS high school STE testing eligibility is available on the MCAS STE Transition Information webpage.  

4. Biology and Introductory Physics MCAS Standard Setting Panels
DESE is recruiting educators to participate in standard setting for the high school Biology and Introductory Physics MCAS tests. The meetings will be held from August 9–12, 2022, and panelists will be offered a $200/day stipend. The purpose of the standard setting is to identify and recommend achievement level cut scores for the Biology and Introductory Physics tests.  

DESE is looking to select from a diverse pool of candidates with experience teaching grades 9 and 10 biology or physics and experience working with racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse students. DESE is especially interested in recruiting educators of color and members of other historically marginalized groups. More information about applicant qualifications and about how to apply is posted on the Department’s website. The deadline to apply is Monday, March 28, 2022, and educators are encouraged to apply early. We ask that you share this opportunity with relevant educators in your school or district.  

5. Reminder from the Previous Update: John and Abigail Adams Scholarship Letters Available for November 2021 Retest Results
High schools with students in the class of 2022 who participated in the November 2021 retest for scholarship purposes and qualified for a John and Abigail Adams Scholarship will soon receive a delivery of award letters for those students. The letters and data files are scheduled to be available in the formats listed below on the following dates. Please see the previous update for further information.
Table with Delivery Format and Delivery Date. .CSV files in the MCAS 2022 Data Folder in DropBox Central, in the DESE Security Portal, February 14. PDF versions at the MCAS Service Center, March 8. Paper copies in district offices, March 10.

Other Important Dates

Table with Category, Date(s), and Item. ACCESS for ELLs (Dates were updated Jan. 7), December 2–March 4, WIDA AMS test setup. 	January 4–February 25, Order additional materials, if necessary. January 6–March 4, ACCESS for ELLs test sessions. March 7, Deadline to schedule UPS pickup. March 8, Deadline for UPS pickup. March Retests, January 24–March 2, Review Best Practices document and, if recommended, download ProctorCache software and conduct an Infrastructure Trial (both suggested in certain circumstances). February 1–March 8, Extended pre-administration SR/PNP window for CBT. March 2, Receive manuals and PBT materials for accommodations.  Spring Grades 3–8, February 7–March 25 (for ELA), February 4–April 22 (for Math/STE), Extended pre-administration SR/PNP window for CBT. January 31–March 14, Review Best Practices document and, if recommended, download ProctorCache software and conduct an Infrastructure Trial (both suggested in certain circumstances). Spring Grade 10 ELA, February 7–March 21, Extended pre-administration SR/PNP window for CBT. January 31–March 8, Review Best Practices document, and if recommended, download ProctorCache software and conduct an Infrastructure Trial (both suggested in certain circumstances).
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
Schedule a Call with Technology Support Specialists
available prior to test administration
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