A message from the
Massachusetts Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education

January 25, 2023
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News from DESE Student Assessment Services

For All Schools

1. Test Administration Manuals for Spring 2023
We are pleased to announce that the spring 2023 MCAS Principal’s Administration Manual (PAM), Test Administrator’s Manual for Computer-Based Testing (CBT TAM), and Test Administrator’s Manual for Paper-Based Testing (PBT TAM) are now available.

Shipments of hard copy manuals
  • Grades 3–8 schools will receive a shipment on March 13 that includes manuals for administering all subject area tests.
  • High schools will receive a shipment on March 14 containing manuals for both the grade 10 ELA and the grade 10 Mathematics tests. A second shipment of manuals for administering the high school STE tests will arrive on May 23.
Each school receives one copy of the PAM. Each school also receives one copy of each TAM for every 15 students, based on their Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP). Schools may download additional copies or contact the MCAS Service Center to order more.
2. New MCAS Service Center Chat Feature; Fax Discontinued
Schools may now communicate with MCAS Service Center representatives during regular business hours using a live chat feature to receive support in addition to phone and email. Live chat is available from the MCAS Resource Center in the footer of any page as well as the PearsonAccess Next (PAN) home page on the right-hand side of the screen in the “Contact Us” section.
To use the live chat, provide your name, email address, assessment (choose MCAS, and then MA will appear as the state), district and school names, and your question. (You also need to confirm that you are not a robot.) Then, a new chat window will open, and the question will enter the queue for the next available MCAS Service Center representative. When the representative joins, you will be able to send and receive text message chats in real-time.
Chat can be used on most web browsers that are updated to the latest version as well as the two previous versions. So that we can confirm that the MCAS Service Center is providing schools with a high-quality level of support, please reach out to the Office of Student Assessment Services to let us know about your experience.
Schools should note that the MCAS Service Center is no longer receiving faxes. Schools should email the MCAS Service Center instead, as needed.
3. Infrastructure Trial Windows for Spring Administrations
The window for conducting an Infrastructure Trial for the for the March retest administration opened on Monday, January 23. The windows for the remaining spring administrations will open on the following dates:
  • grades 3–8: January 30
  • grade 10: February 6
An Infrastructure Trial is an opportunity for districts, schools, and students to prepare for MCAS computer-based testing (CBT) by simulating test-day network utilization.
An Infrastructure Trial is recommended in some circumstances; review the Infrastructure Trial Readiness Guide to determine whether to conduct one before spring testing.
New for 2023: If your school does not plan to administer an Infrastructure Trial, DESE strongly recommends running a Preliminary System Test, which is a small-scale Infrastructure Trial during which several technology or other school staff members sign in to TestNav (instead of students) and click through each practice test. Schools should plan to complete the Preliminary System Test during the windows above so that an Infrastructure Trial can also be completed during this timeframe if needed. Refer to the Infrastructure Trial Readiness Guide and the Best Practices for MCAS CBT for guidance.
Schools should also prepare their technology setup in time for windows above and determine if they need to use ProctorCache (refer to the ProctorCache Recommendation for guidance). Recordings from the January 20 and January 24 Overview of Infrastructure Trials trainings will be available soon on the MCAS Resource Center.
4. Technology Support Prior to Computer-Based Testing
Technology coordinators can schedule a call with Pearson's support specialists (i.e., Field Services Engineering) from now through March 24.  They may use this website to schedule “office hours” support for a 15-, 30-, or 60-minute phone call.

This is an opportunity for technology coordinators to receive support on topics such as technology readiness, TestNav and PearsonAccess Next, and Infrastructure Trials.
These "office hours" supplement the support provided by the MCAS Service Center (see contact information in the footer) and will only be available prior to test administration. During test administration, the MCAS Service Center will be available for real-time support.
Please share this information with your technology coordinators, and confirm with them that the technology preparations described in the MCAS Pre-Administration Guide and in Appendix A of the PAM are in place for spring MCAS testing.
5. Deadline to Provide Feedback on MCAS: January 27
The Department is inviting students, parents, education professionals, and community members to participate in a survey that will provide feedback on the MCAS program and help inform improvements. A Spanish translation of the survey is now available; use the drop-down in the top right corner of the survey to select it. The survey will close at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, January 27. Please contact with any questions. 
6. Alternate ACCESS for ELLs Field Test
All students who are scheduled to take the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs will take the current test, and at least 25% of students taking the Alternate ACCESS are encouraged to also participate in the field test (as well as students in kindergarten). See the January 12 Update for more information on participation and training.

Field test materials will arrive in schools on February 7, and the field test window is February 14–April 17. Materials should be returned as soon as testing is complete, but no later than April 19 (note: April 17–19 is during April vacation, so schools should plan ahead).

DESE will hold a field test webinar on January 31 at 1:00–2:00 p.m. Registration is available.
7. Reminders from the Previous Update
a. Deadline to Submit the Grades 3–8 Spring 2023 MCAS SR/PNP: February 3
The pre-administration SR/PNP window for ordering CBT and PBT materials for the spring 2023 grades 3–8 tests will close on February 3 (see the January 19 Update for details).  

b. PAN 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, no further action is needed at this time; see the previous update for more information.   

c. Updates to the MCAS TestNav Tutorial and the Grades 5 and 8 STE Practice Tests
The MCAS TestNav Tutorial has been updated to include information about different types of test questions, and arrow interactions and animations for STE are included in the tutorial and practice tests. See the previous update for further information.
 dAccess to the DESE Security Portal
School and district staff who need access to the Security Portal to retrieve MCAS-related information in Edwin Analytics and/or DropBox Central should contact your organization's Directory Administrator to request access; see the previous update for further information.
e. Deadline to Notify DESE of BYOD Participation for MCAS: January 30
Schools with students who are using their own devices for instruction (“bring your own device” [BYOD]) that would like to utilize these devices for MCAS testing in spring 2023 should email by Monday, January 30 for further instructions.
For High Schools

1. SR/PNP Windows for March 2023 Retests and Spring 2023 Grade 10 ELA and Math Open January 30
The SR/PNP windows for high schools to order CBT and PBT materials are described in the table below. Note that a response is requested from each school by the deadlines listed.
  March Retest  Spring Grade 10 ELA and Mathematics
Window  January 30–February 7
Note: This window ends earlier than the one for grade 10.
January 30–February 10
File name in DropBox Central in the DESE Security Portal (MCAS 2023 Data folder)
(available on the first day of the window)
xxxx.csv (where the x’s refer to the school and district code)
Spring2023_grade10_ELA_Math_SRPNP_xxxx.csv (where the x’s refer to the school and district code)
Student Demographic Data Student enrollment and demographic data are current in SIF as of mid-January 2023. For non-SIF districts or districts that do not submit SIF data by then, October 2022 SIMS will be used. Same as March retest SR/PNP file
Accommodations Not pre-populated; schools will need to include them as needed Accommodations are pre-populated with data from spring 2021 grade 8 accommodations in those subjects
Other Notes Students who passed the November retest will not be included in the file. For information on retrieving a student’s CD status, please refer to the January 12, 2023 and November 12, 2022 Student Assessment Updates.  

The following resources are available to help complete the SR/PNP: Questions about the SR/PNP should be directed to the MCAS Service Center, and policy questions should be directed to DESE (see contact information in the footer of this update).
2. Availability of TestNav; Requests to Test Outside Regular Hours for February Biology and Introductory Physics
To maintain the security of the testing system during the February Biology and Introductory Physics administration, 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 Friday, January 27.  The email should include the following information:
  • school and district names and 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.
3. Sample Training Slides for February STE Now Available
Sample training slides for training test administrators and other staff in test security and administration protocols are now available. Using the slides is not required, but training test administrators in preparation for each test administration is required. Principals who develop their own training slides may want to view these sample slides to confirm that all necessary information has been included.
4. Modified Competency Determination (CD) Round 13 Update
On January 20, DESE opened the CD application on the Security Portal for round 13 of modified CD data collection. Students in the classes of 2020–2022 (ELA, math, and science) and 2023 (science only) who have not yet earned the CD and were reported as “enrolled” in October 2022 (SY2023) SIMS will be included. Reminder: a district user must confirm the selections for each student—including students in out-of-district placements—and then certify data in order to complete the process.

The deadline for this round is February 17. DESE intends to review submissions and issue CDs to eligible students in late February. As a reminder, districts cannot issue diplomas to students who have not earned their CD via MCAS testing or this modified process.

Refer to the Frequently Asked Questions and the list of DESE-identified courses that fulfill the modified CD requirements for more information. Please direct questions to the Office of Data Analysis and Reporting at
5. Reminder: No ASL Edition for February STE Tests
Schools should prepare to administer accommodation A6.1 for February Biology and Introductory Physics instead of the ASL edition following instructions on page 21 of the Accessibility and Accommodations Manual. See the previous update for details.

Other Important Dates

Table with Category, Date(s), and Item. February Biology and Introductory Physics, December 12–January 25, Window to complete Infrastructure Trial. December 19–January 31, Window to update SR/PNP for students participating in CBT. January 25, Receive manuals and PBT materials. January 25, (Optional) If using ProctorCache, precache operational test content. January 25–30, If necessary, order additional manuals and PBT materials, and report packing discrepancies for PBT shipments. February 1, Session 1. February 2, Session 2. February 7, Last date for all make-up testing. Deadline for updating SR/PNP information and marking students’ tests complete, if necessary. February 8, (PBT only) Pre-scheduled UPS pickup (and deadline). ACCESS for ELLs, January 3–February 3, Order additional materials, if necessary. January 5–February 10, ACCESS for ELLs test sessions. March Retests, February 8–March 7, Window to update SR/PNP for students participating in CBT. January 23–March 1, Window to conduct an Infrastructure Trial. Spring Grades 3–8, January 30–March 20, Window to conduct an Infrastructure Trial. February 6–March 24 (ELA), February 6-April 21 (Math and STE), Window to update SR/PNP for students participating in CBT. Grade 10 ELA and Math, February 6–March 21, Window to conduct an Infrastructure Trial.
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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