A message from the
Massachusetts Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education

December 14, 2022
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News from DESE Student Assessment Services

For All Schools

1. Process to Request a Waiver from the MCAS CBT Expectation
Schools are expected to administer all winter and spring MCAS tests online. Districts/organizations with unique or extenuating circumstances may apply to administer next-generation paper-based testing for all students for these reasons: 
  • Technology constraints or related issues make computer-based testing unfeasible.
  • All students will take paper-based tests as an accommodation.
Requests must be made by the following deadlines:
Administration Deadline
  • February Biology and Introductory Physics
Friday, December 16
  • March Retests
  • Grade 10 ELA and Mathematics
  • Grades 3–8 ELA and Mathematics, and Grades 5 and 8 STE
Friday, January 13
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., requesting a waiver for grades 3 and 4 for ELA because those grades are being housed in a temporary location while a new school is being built).
To request a waiver, please fill out the surveys linked below: Please reach out to with any questions.
2. 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 22 and will reopen on January 3. Schools should plan to call for support prior to December 21, if possible. If you have any urgent questions for the MCAS Service Center during the closure, please contact the Department’s Office of Student Assessment Services (see contact information in the footer of this update).
3. MCAS Alternate Assessment (MCAS-Alt)
a. Registration: January 3–13, 2023
MCAS-Alt submission materials can be ordered from January 3 to 13, 2023. 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 2023 MCAS password, which will be posted in the DESE Security Portal on January 3 (see item 5b below on how to access the new password).
  • 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, you will see a confirmation page that you can print for your records.
b. MCAS-Alt January Review Sessions
Registration is now available for MCAS-Alt review sessions in January. Please encourage teachers who will be submitting the MCAS-Alt to register for a session. Educators will have a choice of attending an in-person or a virtual review session. If an ASL interpreter is needed, please request one by December 20 by contacting the MCAS Service Center at 800-737-5103. Further details are available here.
4. ACCESS for ELLs
a. Test Materials Arrive on January 3
The ACCESS for ELLs test window is January 5–February 10, 2023. Testing materials have been ordered by the Department and will arrive in schools on January 3. Please make sure someone is available at the school on this date to sign for the materials being delivered.

Other important dates for ACCESS testing 2023 can be found on the MA state page of the WIDA website.

b. Alternate ACCESS for ELLs Field Test
To assist WIDA with the development of the new Alternate ACCESS for ELLs test coming in 2024, schools are being asked to take part in the Alternate ACCESS Field Test in 2023. Students who meet the criteria in the Participation Guidelines: Which Students Should Take the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs? will be invited to participate, including kindergarten students. Materials for the field test will arrive in schools on February 7. Field testing will begin in mid-February and conclude on April 17.

WIDA staff members would like to observe the administration of the field test. These observations will help WIDA understand how students interact with the test and will be used to make the test a more efficient and positive experience. If you are willing to participate in such an observation, please complete the
 Alternate ACCESS Field Test Observation Survey by December 16.

c. Reminders: Test Coordinator Training Workshops and Test Setup
DESE will conduct virtual workshops for new and returning school and district ACCESS for ELLs Test Coordinators in December. 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. Please see the November 16 Update for further information. Registration is still available.
The test setup window is open now through February 10, 2023. Schools should review test sessions in WIDA AMS under Test Management>Manage Test Sessions and make any changes needed, such as updating demographic information or adding/removing students from sessions. See the previous update for further information.  
5. Reminders from the Previous Update
a. 2022–23 Statewide Testing Schedule and Administration Deadlines
The MCAS testing schedule for the 2022–23 school year is now available, including registration dates and administration deadlines, as well as the ACCESS for ELLs testing schedule and the submission deadline for the MCAS-Alt. Districts and schools should review the schedule and contact with any questions. Please see the previous update for further information. (The additional materials window for the March retests and the extended SR/PNP window for CBT for the grade 10 Mathematics test have been updated since the initial release, and the update is now posted.) 

b. Passwords for the MCAS Service Center Secure Website
Memos containing passwords for use in 2023 will be posted as a file named MCAS_Service_Center_Password_2023_xxxxxxxx.pdf (where xxxxxxxx is the school or district code) on January 3, 2023, in the MCAS 2023 Data folder in DropBox Central in the DESE Security Portal. Please see the previous update for further information.

c. MCAS BYOD Participation: Notification Deadlines for Winter and Spring 2023
Schools with students who are using their own devices for instruction, and who would like to utilize these devices for MCAS testing in 2023, should email by the following deadlines for instructions on preparing devices:
  • February Biology and Introductory Physics Tests: Friday, December 16, 2022
  • March Retests, Spring Grades 3–8 and 10 Tests: Monday, January 30, 2023
Please see the previous update for further information.

d. Intent to Seek a Waiver from the One-Percent Limit on Alternate Assessments
The Department has issued a Notice of Intent to Apply for an extension of its waiver from the U.S Department of Education’s one-percent limit on the number of students who can take alternate assessments (the MCAS-Alt). DESE has posted a memo containing guidance and resources on this topic.  The Department welcomes the public’s comments regarding its intent to apply for this waiver. Comments may be submitted via email to until Friday, December 16. Please see the previous update for further information.
For Middle Schools

1. Volunteer Schools Needed for Grade 8 Civics End-of-Course Pilot for Spring 2023
The Department is developing a new grade 8 civics assessment based on the 2018 Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework. For spring 2023, we are recruiting schools to participate in a shortened end-of-course pilot test. The purpose of the pilot is to provide data on test questions to schools in preparation for a field test administration in future years. We are currently developing state performance tasks, but these are not part of the 2023 pilot. The administration window for the 2023 pilot test will be May 22–June 9, 2023.
More information about the Grade 8 Civics Assessment will be provided in a January 2023 Student Assessment Update, including information about how to register for the pilot and information about upcoming professional development opportunities.
For High Schools

1. Results from the November Retest
Results for the November retest are scheduled to be available as indicated below.
Information Delivered Scheduled Delivery Date
.CSV files posted in DropBoxes in the DESE Security Portal January 27
Student Rosters and other interactive reports available in Edwin Analytics February 3
Parent/Guardian Reports (one paper copy) delivered to district offices March 3
Parent/Guardian Reports in PearsonAccess Next, in Published Reports, at the school level March 3
As a reminder, students must earn certain next-generation scores in ELA and Mathematics to meet the interim Competency Determination (CD) standard. Please see the graduation requirements web page for the required MCAS 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.
2. Reminders from the Previous Update
a. Student Registration for the February Biology and Introductory Physics Tests: Deadline is December 16
Schools must complete the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) process by December 16 to register students and order student test materials for the February Biology and Introductory Physics tests. If no students will participate, email the MCAS Service Center by December 16 with the school and district name and code. Please see the previous update for further information.
b. Infrastructure Trial Window for the February Biology and Introductory Physics Administration Now Open
The window for conducting an Infrastructure Trial for the February Biology and Introductory Physics administration is now open. Please see the previous update for further information, including new instructions for a small-scale network test.
Happy New Year and What's Next from Student Assessment Services
This is the last edition of the Student Assessment Update for 2022. 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. We 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 find helpful?

Other Important Dates

Table with Category, Date(s), and Item. February Biology and Introductory Physics, December 5–16, Complete the pre-administration SR/PNP process. December 12–January 25, Window to complete Infrastructure Trial. December 19–January 31, Window to update SR/PNP for students participating in CBT.
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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