A message from the
Massachusetts Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education

October 5, 2021
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News from DESE Student Assessment Services

For All Schools

1. Parent/Guardian Reports Delivered to Districts and Now Available in PearsonAccess Next
On September 30, Parent/Guardian Reports were delivered to district offices and made available electronically in PearsonAccess Next (PAN). As a reminder, districts received one paper copy of the Parent/Guardian Report; electronic versions are available at the school level to users with the MCAS test coordinator role or the Published Reports role. 

To assist districts in distributing the appropriate number of translated Parent/Guardian Report templates to schools, the Department placed a file in districts’ MCAS 2021 Data folder, titled MCAS2021_PG_Translation_Counts_xxxxxxxx, with the number of students by grade whose first language is among the top ten first languages statewide. The counts are current as of June 2021 SIMS and include Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Creole, Arabic, Crioulo, Vietnamese, Russian, Khmer, and French. Electronic versions of the translations are available on the DESE website.  Translations in additional languages will be posted soon.
2. Updates to TestNav and PAN
TestNav and PAN are being updated with several new features, beginning with the November 2021 retest administration. Please see the Updates for 2021–22 web page on the DESE website for detailed information.
3. Extending Application Deadline for MCAS Assessment Development Committees and the MCAS Bias and Sensitivity CommitteeNow Due Friday, October 8
DESE is seeking educators to serve as members of the MCAS Assessment Development Committees (ADCs) in the following content areas— English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics, Science, Civics—and the Bias and Sensitivity Committee (BSC). More information about committee members’ roles and responsibilities and how to apply can be found here on the DESE website. The due date to submit an application is Friday, October 8.  Please see the previous update for further information.
4. ACCESS for ELLs
a. ACCESS for ELLs Reporting Workshops
Thank you to those who attended the 2021 ACCESS for ELLs Reporting Workshops on September 22 and 23. Slides are available on the Massachusetts state page of the WIDA website under “Manuals, Guides and Workshops.” An FAQ from both sessions was emailed to participants. If you are interested in receiving the FAQ, please email

b. Progress Indicators and Future Targets for EL Students
In mid-October, student-level 2021 ACCESS for ELLs electronic results will be available in the Security Portal in DropBox and in Edwin. In DropBox, the file will be labeled ACCESS2021_student_level_R1_and_R2_; in Edwin, the report will be titled EL627 — ACCESS for ELLs Student Roster. These results will include:
  • 2021 progress indicators
  • 2021 attainment indicators
  • 2021 progress targets and difficulty indices
  • 2021 Student Growth Percentiles for ACCESS (SGPA)
  • 2021 assigned scores for students who were unable to take a domain due to an unavailable accommodation
  • 2022 progress targets and difficulty indices
Also in mid-October, school- and district-level information will be available using the Edwin report titled EL327 — ACCESS for ELLs Student Roster. This report will include:
  • the number and percent of ELs making progress by school and district
  • the number and percent of students participating in ACCESS 2021 by school and district
Please email with any questions. 
5. Reminders from the Previous Update
a. Math and STE Equation Editor
The Equation Editor (EE) tool that is embedded in MCAS computer-based next-generation tests in Mathematics, Introductory Physics, and grade 8 STE was recently updated with additional symbols and revised symbol descriptions. Please see the previous update for further details.

b. MCAS English Language Arts Released Essays Available
Schools and districts have access to released student essays from the spring 2021 next-generation English Language Arts tests in grades 3–8 and 10 in PAN. To access them, log on to and navigate to Reports>Published Reports. Please see the previous update for further details.
For High Schools

1. Modified CD Data for Round 7 Available for the Classes of 2020 and 2021 in DropBoxes
The Department has concluded its review of modified Competency Determination (CD) round 7 data that districts certified in the Security Portal during the August 19–September 3 collection window. This round included students from the classes of 2020 and 2021 who were eligible for the modified CD in ELA, Mathematics, and STE.

Results from round 7 are now posted in the MCAS 2021 Data DropBoxes in .CSV files titled Modified_CD_Round_7_Sept2021_xxxxxxxx. The district-level file contains eligible students who were reported as enrolled in the district in June 2021 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 2021 SIMS. See the updated file layout, also in in DropBox Central, for a description of the variable names in the modified CD files. Updated CD reports are also available in Edwin Analytics in the Student CD Roster (PE618) and the Student Profile Report (PR600). Beginning with modified CD rounds 6 and 7, student memos will be available in a new Edwin Analytics CD Memo report (PE620). Please note that student memos will no longer be posted in DropBox Central. 

The round 8 collection window will open in late October and will include students in the class of 2022 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

2. High School Science MCAS Update
a. February 2022 Biology Administration Eligibility
Students in the class of 2024 who completed a high school biology course last year in 2020–21 are eligible and should be provided the opportunity to take the February 2022 Biology test. If eligible students decide to opt out of the February Biology test, the Department recommends that schools have parents/guardians complete a Nonparticipation Form.
The February Biology test will be a legacy, paper-based test that is aligned to "overlapping" standards from both the 2006 and 2016 Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) Frameworks. Please note that this test will be the final legacy Biology test that will be offered.
Released tests and student work are available to help educators prepare students for the February test.
b. June 2022 STE Tests
Four high school STE tests will be offered in June 2022: Biology, Introductory Physics, Chemistry, and Technology Engineering. Eligibility for each test is available on the Transition Information page.
The Biology and Introductory Physics tests will be next-generation, computer-based tests aligned to the 2016 STE standards. Next-generation practice tests are available to help educators and students prepare for these tests.
The Chemistry and Technology/Engineering tests will be legacy, paper-based tests aligned to the 2006 STE standards. Released tests and student work are available to help educators prepare students for these tests.
More information about the transition of STE to next-generation tests can be found on the Science and Technology/Engineering Test Design and Development web page.
c. STE Requirements for the CD for the Classes of 2020–2023
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.
3. PearsonAccess Next Passwords and Accounts: Confirm Accounts at This Time
School and district staff who had access to PAN during the previous school year should sign in to PAN to make sure their accounts are still active. If you are able to sign in to your account successfully, no further action is needed at this time. Staff with accounts that were disabled will receive an error message upon sign-in; resetting the password will enable the account. Please contact the MCAS Service Center with any questions (see contact information in the footer of this update).

Updated versions of the User Role Matrix and the Guide to Managing Users in PearsonAccess Next will soon be posted to the MCAS Resource Center. Principals should review the User Role Matrix to confirm that school and district staff have the appropriate PAN accounts. Principals should designate a member of their team to add/remove accounts for the November retest administration. This task can be done manually or by uploading a file (the latter is best for creating large numbers of new accounts). For support, refer to the Guide to Managing Users in PearsonAccess Next. Contact the MCAS Service Center with questions. 
4. Availability of TestNav; Requests to Test Outside Regular Hours
To maintain the security of the testing system during the November 2021 retests, TestNav will be available only during the test administration windows, and open between 7:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday–Friday 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 October 26.  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 in a timely manner, since schools will need to complete follow-up steps upon receiving approval of their requests.
5. John and Abigail Adams Scholarship Letters
High schools will soon be receiving a delivery of letters for students who have qualified to receive the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship. The letter is important because students who use the scholarship must provide a copy of the letter along with their completed FAFSA application each year. Without this letter, the college/university will not apply the tuition credit. 

PDF versions of these letters are scheduled to be posted on the MCAS Service Center on October 12. Paper copies are scheduled for delivery to district offices on October 22.
Schools will need to do the following:
  • Make copies of the letters for students' files for future reference.
  • (Recommended) Designate an individual in the school to be the point of contact for the letters.
  • Inform students of the name of the person at the school whom they can contact with any questions about the scholarship or the letter.
6. New Operational Report: Students with Multiple Tests of the Same Subject Area
After submitting the SR/PNP file for the November retests, schools are encouraged to run the new operational report titled “Students with Multiple Tests of the Same Subject Area” to confirm that students are only assigned to one format (next-generation for ELA and Mathematics, or legacy for ELA and Mathematics). This report is available in PAN under Reports > Operational Reports > Students and Registrations. Please see additional information on accessing the report in the Guide to the SR/PNP Process (found in the PearsonAccess Next Guidance dropdown). Note that this report is not the same as the Students with Multiple Tests Report, and the slides that were distributed for the Overview of the SR/PNP Process training on September 20 contained the incorrect report name. Please reach out to the MCAS Service Center with questions.
7. Reminders from the Previous Update
a. Registration for the November Retests
Though the initial deadline for the SR/PNP import has passed, the extended SR/PNP window for computer-based testing (CBT) continues until November 8. If a school needs to add additional CBT students to the registration file, they should follow the steps in Section III: Steps for Updating Student Information After the Initial Upload in the Guide to the SR/PNP Process. Schools that need to add additional students for paper-based testing should  contact the MCAS Service Center as well as following the steps in the Guide to the SR/PNP Process. Schools are reminded that students who were absent in spring 2021 have the option of participating for scholarship purposes in either the November 2021 or March 2022 retests.

Schools should inform parents/guardians of these options, and note that participation in November may be a better option for most students, particularly for grade 12 students, participating for Adams or Koplik eligibility, since results from the March retests may not be available in time to make college decisions. Please see the September 1 Student Assessment Update for further information on eligibility for the November retests. 

b. November 2021 Retest Testing Schedule
A detailed MCAS testing schedule for the November 2021 retest administration, including registration dates and administration deadlines, is now available. Districts and schools should review the schedule and contact with any concerns.

c. MCAS BYOD Participation: Notify DESE by Friday, October 15
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 would like to utilize these devices for the November next-generation retests, should email by Friday, October 15 for instructions on preparing devices.

d. Technology Support Prior to Computer-Based Testing
Technology coordinators will be able to schedule one-on-one support from Pearson's support specialists (i.e., Field Services Engineering) prior to the November next-generation retest administration, between now and October 29. They may use this website to schedule a phone meeting. Please see the previous update for further information.

Other Important Dates

Table with category, date, and time. November Retest Administration. September 27 - October 29, Infrastructure Trial Window. October 4 - November 8, extended pre-administration SR/PNP window for 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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