A message from the
Massachusetts Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education

February 28, 2023
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News from DESE Student Assessment Services

For All Schools

1. Technology Preparations for the March Retests and Spring 2023 Testing
In preparation for the upcoming MCAS administrations, technology coordinators are encouraged to take the following steps to reduce the likelihood of technology issues on testing days:
  • Run App Check prior to testing to confirm that the latest version of TestNav is installed and properly configured. (Instructions for performing App Check can be found here.)
  • Verify that the TestNav Configuration information in PearsonAccess Next (PAN) for ProctorCache computers and response file backup locations is correct. (Instructions for editing and reviewing TestNav Configurations in PAN can be found here.)
  • If using a secondary save location, verify that the secondary save location directories are correct and functioning. Each ProctorCache computer and response file backup location will have a unique Configuration Identifier in the TestNav Configurations page in PAN. (Instructions for completing App Check with the Configuration Identifier can be found here.)
  • Review user profile settings on students’ Windows and Mac devices to prevent other application windows, pop-up notifications, and system messages from launching during testing.
  • Ensure that all TestNav URLs have been added to exempt lists in all content filters and other network/security devices.
Principals should meet with their technology coordinators and ensure that they complete the technology preparations listed in Appendix A of the PAM. Principals are also encouraged to review the 2023 technology specifications with their technology coordinators to confirm that their school’s devices can be used for the March retests and spring 2023 MCAS administrations. Please see the previous update for further information.
If your technology staff have any questions regarding technology set-up, please encourage them to schedule a call with Pearson’s technology support prior to testing.
2. Resources for Preparing for Computer-Based Testing
We are including the following administration resources below for your easy reference; some of these were included in earlier updates. Questions on logistics should be directed to the MCAS Service Center at 800-737-5103 or via chat during business hours.  

a. 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 computer-based testing (CBT). High schools can use the grade 10 practice tests to prepare students for the March retests. See the previous update for further information.  

b. Excerpts of MCAS Test Administration Manuals
PDFs of the Principal’s Administration Manual (PAM) and the Test Administrator’s Manuals (TAMs), along with excerpts from each manual, are now available for the March retests and for the spring tests.
The PAM excerpts include the following resources:
  • a checklist of tasks to complete before, during, and after CBT testing
  • tasks for technology coordinators
  • procedures for paper-based testing (PBT)
  • accessibility and accommodations information to share with IEP/504 teams and others
The TAM excerpts include the following resources:
  • separate scripts for each test
  • procedures for administering the student questionnaire for grades 4, 5, 8, and 10
c. PowerPoints for Training Test Administrators
PowerPoint templates are now available for training test administrators for the March retests and the spring tests (download links). 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. Additionally, paper copies of manuals will be available at that time. Principals who would like to train test administrators now may print the TAMs or relevant excerpts. 

d. Recordings of Previous MCAS Trainings
Recordings of the following MCAS trainings are available on the MCAS Resource Center, along with their accompanying slides. 
Under “Recordings of Trainings to Assist with Pre-Administration Tasks”:
  • Pre-Administration Tasks for Technology Staff – January 31, 2023
  • Overview of Infrastructure Trials for Principals and Test Coordinators – January 24, 2023
  • Overview of Infrastructure Trials for Technology Coordinators – January 20, 2023
  • MCAS Accessibility and Accommodations
    • For returning staff – January 17, 2023
    • For new staff – January 18, 2023
  • Overview of the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) Process – January 12, 2023
Under “Recordings of Trainings to Assist with Tasks to Complete During and After Testing”:
  • MCAS Test Security and Administration Protocols
    • For new staff – January 25, 2023
    • For returning staff – January 23, 2023
3. MCAS-Alt
a. Materials Shipments
Shipments of MCAS-Alt submission materials (e.g., binders, envelopes, identification booklets) were scheduled to arrive on February 27. Inventory your school’s materials upon receipt and complete the following tasks:
  • Verify that the quantity of materials received is accurate by following the instructions to complete Section 2 of the online MCAS-Alt PCPA (select “MCAS Alternate Assessment,” then select “Principal Certification”).
  • If additional materials are needed after receiving your MCAS-Alt shipment, go online to the MCAS Service Center, select “MCAS Alternate Assessment,” and select “Order Additional Materials.”
 b. Reminder: March Review Sessions
Registration is now available for MCAS-Alt review sessions in March. Please encourage teachers who will be submitting the MCAS-Alt to register for a session. Educators have a choice of attending an in-person or a virtual review session.
4. Reminders from the Previous Update
a. Upcoming MCAS Test Administration Training Sessions
Registration is still available for the trainings listed below. Sessions will be recorded, and the recordings will be available at the MCAS Resource Center approximately one week after the training date.
Note that the PAN Tasks for Accessibility and Accommodations training session has been rescheduled for Friday, March 3 at 9:30 a.m.

Training Date Time
Tasks in PAN Before Testing Wednesday, March 1 9:30–11:00 a.m.
PAN Tasks for Accessibility and Accommodations Friday, March 3 (rescheduled) 9:30–10:30 a.m.
Tasks in PAN During Testing Tuesday, March 7 9:30–11:30 a.m.
Tasks in PAN After Testing Friday, March 10 9:30–10:30 a.m.

b. Alternate ACCESS for ELLs Field Test: Additional Materials Orders
Field Test materials arrived in schools on February 7. Additional materials may be ordered now by filling out this form. Students should be tested between now and April 17, and materials should be returned no later than April 19 (or April 14 for schools that take the April vacation week off). Please see the previous update for further information.
For Middle Schools

1. Spring 2023 End-of-Course Pilot for Grade 8 Civics
Over the last few years, DESE has been piloting an innovative history and social science assessment for 8th grade civics students.
For spring 2023, we are recruiting schools to participate in a voluntary grade 8 civics end-of-course (EOC) pilot test. The pilot is expected to take approximately 30–45 minutes for students to complete. Schools that participate in this pilot will receive data on how the school performed on the test questions; however, student-level data will not be available. Please see the December 14, 2022, update for further information.
The end-of-course test covers the breadth of the civics standards and is made up of multiple-choice, multiple-select, and technology-enhanced questions. Many of these questions will be based on a text source or graphic for students to analyze and evaluate. EOC practice test questions from the civics pilot given in 2021 can be found on the MCAS Resource Center.
The administration window for the end-of-course test will be May 22–June 9.
If your school is interested in participating, please complete the brief online form by Friday, March 31. DESE will follow up with interested schools regarding next steps, including instructions on how to register students. Interested schools should also inform their superintendents.
If you have any questions, please contact us at 781-338-3625 or
For High Schools

1. Update: March Retest Return of PBT Materials
The following procedures for the return of spring PBT materials (also described in the spring Principal’s Administration Manual) will apply as well to the return of March retest materials. 
  • Schools will not receive separate flat boxes for the return of PBT materials; instead, schools will need to save the original shipping cartons in which test materials were shipped and use them to return materials at the end of testing.
  • Schools will return all used and unused booklets (with the exception of Braille) inside the Return Envelope, Special Handling Envelope, and Void Envelope. Refer to page 91 of the spring PAM for the steps involved.
  • Schools will notice that a UPS Return Service label has been placed on each envelope for returning materials (i.e., the Return Envelope, Special Handling, and Void Envelope). In the unlikely event that a school’s return shipment is damaged in transit, the label on the envelope will assist UPS in routing the booklets to Cognia for scoring as soon as possible.
These instructions update those provided in the fall/winter Principal’s Administration Manual.
Schools may contact the MCAS Service Center at 800-737-5103 with any questions or to request additional envelopes. 
2. Updated Deadline for Returning PBT Materials for Grade 10 ELA
To accommodate schools that will be closed on April 7 for Good Friday, the automatic UPS pickup (and the shipping deadline) for MCAS grade 10 ELA materials has been rescheduled for Monday, April 10.  

Schools are encouraged to return materials as soon as testing is completed. To schedule an earlier pickup, schools should contact the MCAS Service Center at 800-737-5103 or go online to schedule the pickup appointment at Requests for pickup on the following business day must be placed by 3:00 p.m. Requests for same-day pickup cannot be fulfilled. Requests made two or more days in advance also cannot be fulfilled.
3. Round 13 Modified CD Data in DropBoxes and Edwin Analytics
The Department has concluded its review of the modified Competency Determination (CD) Round 13 data that districts certified in the Security Portal during the January–February 2023 collection window. This round includes students from the class of 2023 who were eligible for the modified CD in STE and 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 13 are available in the MCAS 2023 Data DropBoxes in the DESE Security Portal in .CSV files (e.g., Modified_CD_round_13_Feb2023_....CSV). Both the district-level and school-level files contain eligible students who were reported as enrolled in October 2022 SIMS (SY2023) in the appropriate organization, and the district file also includes students in out-of-district placements such as collaboratives, private schools, and special education schools. A modified CD file layout is also included in DropBoxes.

The updated Edwin Analytics CD Roster and updated Modified CD memos are scheduled to be available on Monday, March 6, 2023. See the table below for additional details. 

Information Delivered Scheduled Delivery Date
Round 13 modified CD .CSV files and file layout posted in MCAS 2023 Data DropBox in the DESE Security Portal February 27
Student CD Roster – PE618 (available in Edwin Analytics, Achievement Analysis – Student Level) March 6
Modified CD Memo – PE620 (available in Edwin Analytics, Achievement Analysis – Student Level) March 6

If you have any questions about the modified CD results, please contact
4. Reminders from the Previous Update
a. Availability of TestNav; Requests to Test Outside Regular Hours for the March Retests
To maintain the security of the testing system during the March 2023 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, principals should email by March 1 with the school and district names and codes, specific days/times being requested for testing, reason for request, and PAN Session name(s). Please see the previous update for further information. 

b. Parent/Guardian Report Date for the November Retests
Electronic versions of Parent/Guardian reports for the November retests are now available in PAN. Please see the previous update for the full list of dates for November Retest results. 

c. John and Abigail Adams Scholarship Letters Available for November 2022 Retest Results
High schools with students in the class of 2023 who participated in the November 2022 retest for scholarship purposes and qualified for a John and Abigail Adams Scholarship now have access to an eligibility list and award letters for those students. Please see the previous update for a full list of dates and further information regarding the Adams Scholarship.

Other Important Dates

Table with Category, Date(s), and Item. March Retests, February 8–March 7, Window to update the SR/PNP for students participating in CBT. January 23–March 1, Window to conduct a Preliminary System Test and/or Infrastructure Trial. March 1, Receive manuals and PBT materials. Tests available for precaching for schools using ProctorCache. March 1–6 (ELA), March 1–10 (Math), If necessary, order additional manuals and PBT materials, and report packing discrepancies for PBT shipments. March 8,ELA Session 1. March 9, ELA Session 2. March 14, Mathematics Session 1. March 15, Mathematics Session 2. March 20, Last date for all make-up testing. Spring Grades 3–8, January 30–March 20, Window to conduct a Preliminary System Test and/or Infrastructure Trial. February 6–March 24 (ELA), February 6–April 21 (Math and STE), Window to update the SR/PNP for students participating in CBT. March 13, Receive all manuals and PBT materials for ELA. March 13–23, If necessary, order additional manuals and PBT materials for ELA, and report packing discrepancies for PBT shipments. March 20, Test content available for precaching for schools using ProctorCache. Schools should not precache until one week prior to the start of the testing window for each subject area. Grade 10 ELA and Math, February 6–March 21. Window to conduct a Preliminary System Test and/or Infrastructure Trial. March 14, Receive all manuals and ELA PBT materials. March 14–24, If necessary, order additional manuals and ELA PBT materials, and report packing discrepancies for ELA PBT shipments.
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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